National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse

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EDITOR'S NOTE: Every day we bring you news articles, opinion pieces, crime stories and official information from government web sites. These are highlights, and constitute the tip of the iceberg .. a small percentage of the daily information available to those who are interested in the issues of child abuse, trauma and recovery. Stay aware. Every extra set of "eyes and ears" and every voice makes a big difference.
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Recent News - News from other times

February, 2017 - Week 1
MJ Goyings
Many thanks to our very own "MJ" Goyings, a resident of Ohio, for her daily research that provides us with the news related material that appears on the LACP & NAASCA web sites.

United Kingdom

Spend on help not inquiries, says victim of abuse

by The BBC

A victim of child abuse has criticised the decision to hold an inquiry to investigate more than 60 institutions, including several top private schools.

The inquiry will look at historical abuse of children in care in Scotland.

But John Findlay, who was abused while a pupil in the care of Aberlour House in Moray, said money would be better spent supporting victims.

He said the inquiry was "yet another process" rather than progress towards helping people.

Mr Findlay told BBC Scotland's Timeline programme how he had spoken publically before about what happened to him, but has not been contacted about giving evidence to the inquiry.

He was abused by one of his teachers, who is no longer alive, at Aberlour House, a prep school for Gordonstoun private school in Moray which Mr Findlay went on to attend.

Mr Findlay was assaulted in his bed in a dormitory after being given what he described as a form of date rape drug.

"He fondled my genitalia. He put his head under the covers, He took photographs," said Mr Findlay of the attack.

"Once I was able to move afterwards I confronted him about it. I was convinced by him that I imagined it, that nothing happened."

'Unimaginably distressing'

Mr Findlay said what happened to him as a child "tainted" his adult life, including work and personal relationships.

On the inquiry, he said: "I would love to say I have hope, however, it is yet another announcement of yet another inquiry and yet another process.

"I see actually no progression whatsoever with regards to any government or any school providing genuine help for victims of abuse.

"It is all very well saying 'yeah, we are looking into it', but for crying out loud it is about time you could just turn around and say instead of spending how ever much on inquiries why not just spend the money on helping the victims of this abuse."

Gordonstoun is among boarding schools and other institutions involved in the investigation.

In a statement. Gordonstoun said: "We welcome the Scottish Abuse Inquiry's invitation to submit a report and will respond in full.

"Cases of non-recent abuse must be unimaginably distressing for the victims and their families and the work that the Scottish Abuse Inquiry is undertaking will, we hope, draw important lessons from the past and make children safer in the future.

"For everyone at Gordonstoun today, making sure our students are happy, healthy and safe is at the heart of everything we do.

"We are committed to providing a safe and nurturing environment for all our students. Our ongoing work in this area was recognised in our most recent independent Care Inspectorate Report which gave us a rating of five - 'very good' - for pupil care and support and noted the 'comprehensive child protection procedures' in place."

The Scottish government said it had established one of the widest ranging public inquiries that Scotland has ever seen into the abuse of children in care.

A spokesperson said: "It will focus on the systemic institutional failures which saw many of our most vulnerable children, including those in the care of the state, abused by the very individuals who were there to care for them.

"We want that inquiry to be able to undertake its work in a timescale that can address the issues raised by survivors.

"Scotland is one of the few countries in the world that has dedicated funding for support services for adult survivors of child abuse.

"We have made real progress in delivering what survivors told us they wanted, including a greatly expanded support fund of £13.5m over five years to co-ordinate access to and deliver resources, integrated care and support for those who were abused in care."

The spokesperson said Deputy First Minister John Swinney had also committed to a consultation on redress, pledging to work with survivors to consider the wide range of differing views on the subject.

The spokesperson added: "Last year, we introduced legislation to make it easier to take civil action against historic child abuse, and we also reviewing the child protection system to ensure it is as effective as it can be."


United Kingdom

Serious Case Review highlights child safeguarding failures

by Gavin Drake

An official review into two separate cases of child abuse at a school in southern England has concluded that there were “missed opportunities to prevent the abuse of children”. The Serious Case Review, by West Berkshire Local Safeguarding Children Board, a statutory agency, was held following the convictions of teacher Robert Neill and local priest Peter Jarvis.

Neill was sentenced to 21 years in prison for offences carried out between 1986 and 2003. Separately, Jarvis was sentenced to 15 months for offences between 2008 and 2012. He pleaded guilty to two charges of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity by a person in a position of trust and one count of possession of indecent images of children. He had earlier denied the allegations.

The Serious Case Review concluded that not only were opportunities to prevent abuse missed; but that agencies and individuals with statutory responsibilities could have followed up issues of concern more quickly; and that there is a need for “clear and transparent governance arrangements of safeguarding, particularly in Academies” – a type of school that is publicly funded but privately managed, outside of local education authority control.

The report makes a number of recommendations, including an increased programme of awareness and training on safer recruitment processes, checks to ensure effective whistleblowing procedures are in place; and raising awareness of “the need for vigilance in spotting potential signs of harm and how to report it.”

The chair of the West Berkshire Local Safeguarding Children Board, Fran Gosling-Thomas, said that “In West Berkshire it's not often that we need a Serious Case Review but on this occasion it was absolutely right that we look at how we might learn from this. We fully accept the conclusions of the report and will continue our work implementing the recommendations as quickly as we can.

“Many of the recommendations included in the report were identified at an early stage and activity has been taking place since then to quickly implement changes. All the organisations involved share a commitment to improve working practices and we will continue to work together to ensure that the safety of our young people remain at the heart of everything we do.”

After Jarvis changed his plea to guilty last year, the Bishop of Reading in the Diocese of Oxford, Andrew Proud, described the charges as “serious sexual offences” and said that the diocese was “profoundly shocked and saddened.”

He added: “The Diocese of Oxford takes safeguarding, especially of children, young people, and vulnerable adults, very seriously. We expect the highest standards of conduct from all of our clergy.

“When this case came to light we immediately contacted the statutory authorities. Since then we have worked closely with the police and local authority colleagues and will continue to do so.

“This case has been protracted and distressing for everyone affected. All those involved are in my thoughts and prayers.”



Reschenthaler bill came after he saw child abuse, animal neglect link

by J.D. Prose

During his time as a district judge, state Sen. Guy Reschenthaler saw a pattern develop involving defendants facing abuse charges.

“A lot of the same defendants that came before me for cruelty and abuse to animals had pending charges for child abuse and neglect,” said Reschenthaler, R-37, Jefferson Hills.

That behavioral overlap has again pushed Reschenthaler to offer legislation, Senate Bill 176, that would add social service workers and animal control or humane society officers to the list of those required to report suspected abuse.

In the case of social service employees, they would need to report cases if they have a “reasonable suspicion” of animal abuse. Similarly, animal control and humane society officers would have to report cases in which they suspect child abuse exists.

Signs of child abuse can frequently be hidden, Reschenthaler said. Cuts and bruises can be covered up by clothes or make-up, but an emaciated dog is harder to hide, he said.

Reschenthaler's so-called “cross-reporting” bill was passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, on which he sits, in a 14-0 vote last week and went to the Senate floor for consideration.

Bill co-sponsors include state Sen. Camera Bartolotta, R-46, Carroll Township, Washington County, and state Sen. Elder Vogel Jr., R-47, New Sewickley Township, who both co-sponsored Reschenthaler's identical bill last year that did not make it out of committee.

In his co-sponsorship memo in December, Reschenthaler cited one survey that showed 88 percent of families with pets and confirmed child abuse also had animals that were abused.

For Reschenthaler, there is no question that the abuse of animals is a reliable sign of potential child abuse in a home. “It only made sense to have mandatory reporting,” he said.

On its Facebook page, the Center for Children's Justice (CCJ) offered its support for Reschenthaler's bill, pointing to a recent case detailed by state Attorney General Josh Shapiro in which several people were charged with sexually abusing a 9-year-old boy and two of them “shared a ‘sexual interest'” in both dogs and young boys.

The group also noted a Dauphin County case in which 4-, 5- and 6-year old children were rescued from a home where they were imprisoned and not fed. Afterward, officials discovered 18 cats, a dog and other animals in a state of neglect.

“By supporting this legislation you will reinforce that Pennsylvania understands the correlation between child maltreatment and animal cruelty,” the CCJ post read. “Senate Bill 176 is also an important, yet initial, step to Pennsylvania intentionally acting to prevent and effectively intervene with abuse against children and abuse against animals.”



Child abuse and neglect up 55 percent in Kentucky since 2012

by John Cheves


Kentucky continues to fail children five years after it pledged to better protect them.

In response to several embarrassing stories and legal challenges by the Herald-Leader and The Courier-Journal of Louisville, then-Gov. Steve Beshear established in 2012 an independent panel of medical, legal and social work experts to review cases of children who are killed or severely injured by abuse or neglect. The panel gives special attention to cases in which the Kentucky Department for Community Based Services had previous involvement with a family but failed to prevent a tragic outcome.

“When a child dies or is critically injured because of abuse or neglect, we must carefully review the practices of all government entities involved to make sure that our system performed as it was supposed to,” Beshear said at the time. “If not, that review allows us to take disciplinary action.”

The panel has met dozens of times. It has carefully read the files from several hundred cases, and it issues annual reports to state leaders with its conclusions about what went wrong for each child and what could be done better in the future.

However, the number of substantiated child abuse and neglect findings in Kentucky has steadily risen from 9,934 in fiscal 2012 to 15,378 in fiscal 2016, according to Community Based ServicesDCBS. At least 334 children in those cases died or nearly died from mistreatment.

And the heightened scrutiny has not significantly reduced how often children die or are severely injured despite the presence of state social workers. In its 2014 report, the panel said 66 percent of the 116 cases it reviewed had previous involvement by Community Based Services. In its 2016 report, issued at the start of January, that number was 59 percent of 116 cases — still more than half. Among the cases with state involvement, there was an average of 4.25 previous contacts, the report said.

The state's court system proved no more effective at preventing tragedy. Fifty-seven percent of the cases the panel reviewed in 2016 had a history that could be tracked either through criminal proceedings or behind closed doors in dependency, abuse and neglect hearings. Each of those cases averaged 6.2 court contacts before the child fatality or near-fatality occurred.

Nearly half of the children's deaths reviewed in 2016 were “potentially preventable,” the panel concluded. It cited many problems it found along the way, from bystanders who failed to report suspected abuse to social workers sometimes “screening out,” or rejecting, substantive tips that are called in, leaving children in danger. When the state does act to remove a child from a chaotic home, there might not be enough stable relatives or foster parents available to accept them.

Dr. Christina Howard, a panel member and chief of pediatric forensic medicine at UK HealthCare, said in a recent interview that she has been forced to call child sexual abuse reports in to Community Based Services three or four times before the reports were accepted. Howard said she always insists that social workers call her back to let her know whether a case was opened concerning her report and, if so, to whom it was assigned. Otherwise, she said, she never would know what happened after she passed along her information.

Kentucky isn't making anywhere near the progress it should to keep children safe, panel members said in interviews. DCBS is struggling to monitor too many cases even as more families collapse every year into drug addiction, they said.

“We need a systemic, a top-to-bottom tightening of the safety net in this state, because too many children are continuing to fall through even when we're aware of a bad situation,” said Ed Staats, a panel member who oversees more than 700 volunteers statewide through the Citizen Foster Care Review Board.

“I think if the public understood the system better, they would be a lot more concerned about it,” Staats said. “These cases — every single one of them is serious to somebody. And some of them are truly godawful.”

The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, which oversees DCBS, says it received 105,527 allegations of child abuse or neglect in fiscal 2016, of which 52,424 met the criteria necessary to start an investigation. of those, 15,378 were substantiated.

The cases reviewed by the independent panel are a small sample of the total.

“Hindsight is 20/20,” said Tim Feeley, the cabinet's deputy secretary and a former family court judge. “You never know how it's going to come out, but you have to make the best call when you're seeing a case. On the fatality review board, it's a wonderful review to point out where we might have made mistakes. But they don't — they see those cases that did turn out badly for a child. They don't see the overwhelming number of cases where we do the right thing.”

The cabinet's primary mission, Feeley said, is to reunify children with their biological parents.

“When we know that there's a safety issue, we step in and do the best we can,” he said. “If we suspect there's a safety issue, it's not so easy to just say we're taking children away from a parent.”

An overwhelmed system

Some of the panel's recommendations over the past five years have proven slow to implement, including opening up family court proceedings involving abused and neglected children so the system can be scrutinized by the public.

The General Assembly passed a law a year ago to launch that effort. But no courts have opened these hearings yet. Instead, judicial circuits encompassing Jefferson, Hopkins, Harrison, Nicholas, Pendleton and Robertson counties have agreed to be part of a future pilot project to experiment with public hearings, although the court system is working with an outside consultant on the details.

As written, the law would not allow courtroom observers to make audio or visual records of the abuse and neglect hearings, or publicly report the names of people involved, and that would make news coverage difficult if not impossible. When the panel recommended opening abuse and neglect hearings, it called for full transparency “to increase public awareness.” The legislation that ultimately passed was a compromise measure, panel members said.

“The worst part of my first year as a judge in these cases was that none of the horrible things I was seeing in my courtroom every day — the horrible things happening to children — none of that was reported in the newspaper, because nobody from outside was allowed to watch. And I wish they were!” said Jefferson Family Court Chief Judge Paula Sherlock, a longtime advocate for opening court proceedings. “Instead of stories about a puppy being thrown from a truck window, as bad as that is, we should be reading about the dozen children who are being killed or nearly killed by their own families.”

Other recommendations from the panel carry hefty price tags, including its call for “necessary funding” for the “grossly underfunded” DCBS, which has lost tens of millions of dollars because of state budget cuts from 2009 through this year.

Apart from the cuts, Gov. Matt Bevin put $3.3 million in the current two-year state budget to provide pay raises for social workers and family support employees. Still, some of Kentucky's social workers juggle 60 to 80 cases at once, a load that is several times heavier than recommended and that leads to high rates of staff burnout and turnover.

In 2013, DCBS suspended for five days a social worker in Madison County, Robert Wayne Baldwin, who skipped home visits with two dozen of his assigned families for as long as half a year. Before he agreed to accept his punishment, Baldwin briefly appealed to the state Personnel Board, arguing that the caseload he inherited from his exiting colleagues was unmanageable.

“I was unfairly suspended for my being overwhelmed by swollen case numbers,” Baldwin wrote in his appeal. “With the numbers and intensity of cases, it was impractical and near impossible for me to give quality services to between 50 and 60 families in a given month.”

In November, social workers warned a legislative committee in Frankfort that the state is sweeping abused and neglected children “under the rug” by not adequately funding DCBS. Social workers who remain at the agency are overworked, underpaid and horrified by what they witness every day, they said.

“It's about the exposure to children being beaten until they are dead, or neglected so badly that they eat their own feces because that's how they survived, and having a supervisor who doesn't understand why your investigation is past due,” said Rachel Blanford, a DCBS social worker who quit for a job in the private sector. “It's about dealing with mental illness and substance abuse and domestic violence and not having adequate training. It's about walking into a home where a mother is lying lifeless with a needle in her arm, and the baby is soaked in urine with a bottle of spoiled milk and cheeks that should be chunky are sunken in, and you have no place to put that baby, no home to place that baby.”

Hiring more social workers around the state — there are about 1,800 who work in the division that protects children — would cost millions. But the legislature won't revisit the state budget until next year.

“I think the average legislator would tell you they're concerned about this. But I can't tell you what they'd be willing to actually do to make the system more responsive for the children,” said state Rep. Tom Burch, D-Louisville, who until December was chairman of the House Health and Welfare Committee and a member of the independent panel that reviewed cases.

“I do predict there won't be any tax increases to raise money to take care of these babies,” Burch said. “You can take that prediction to the bank right now. We'll pass legislation against abortion all day long, but once the babies are born, they're on their own.”

State Rep. Russell Webber, R-Shepherdsville, who leads the House budget subcommittee that controls DCBS funding, said, “Right now, we're still a year away from the next budget session.” Nobody has shown him what DCBS will request or how much state money will be available in 2018, Webber said.

“As the new chairman of this budget subcommittee, I can tell you that certainly children are a priority for me, and I think they're a priority for the leadership in the House,” he said.

Catching the errors

The Cabinet for Health and Family Services will spend most of 2017 assembling a list of what it needs from the state budget in 2018 to better serve families, DCBS commissioner Adria Johnson said.

That's likely to go beyond money to hire more social workers, important as that is, Johnson said. For example, she said, the cabinet hopes to restore the Kinship Care program that provided a $300 monthly stipend to relatives who agree to accept children removed from a troubled home. State budget cuts forced the program to stop accepting new people in 2013.

Johnson not only runs DCBS, she also sits on the panel that meets to examine — and often criticize — her agency's work. It has been an educational experience, she said.

“Each case is unique in some respects, so it's hard for me to make a sweeping statement as to ‘Here are certain deficiencies,'” she said. “I do think I have a work force that works extremely hard at doing their job each and every day they come here to do that. I'm also not too naïve to know that when caseloads are high, when the work is overwhelming, that that by and of itself can lead to certain things that we see in certain cases.”

Over the past five years, DCBS has tried to improve its practices in several ways, Johnson said. The agency has created a stronger, standardized internal review process to determine what went wrong after a child fatality or near-fatality in which social workers had previous involvement, she said.

In one such case, in January 2016, a 4-year-old Lexington boy was pulled down the stairs and knocked unconscious by his mother's boyfriend, Carl Jason Carpenter, a 6-foot, 3-inch, 220-pound heroin addict. The boy was rushed to University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital, where he stayed for more than a week with brain bleeding, retinal hemorrhages and severe bruising. Carpenter pleaded guilty six months later to criminal abuse. Fayette Circuit Judge Ernesto Scorsone agreed to let Carpenter serve his five-year sentence on probation instead of prison after Carpenter told the judge he wanted to be free to spend time with his own four children.

Social workers had been involved with the Lexington boy's family because of past child abuse and neglect reports, including one filed two days earlier. The cabinet's internal review uncovered a lengthy list of errors, including failure to properly investigate past abuse, failure to document a history of domestic violence in the home, failure to determine why two other children no longer lived in the home and failure to address the mother's poor mental health and drug use. Also, some case plans looked as if they were “copied and pasted” and not newly prepared based on family members' individual needs, the internal review stated.

DCBS records released to the Herald-Leader under the Kentucky Open Records Act do not reveal what steps, if any, were taken after the internal review, such as disciplinary action or policy changes.

Johnson said she is always concerned when DCBS is warned of problems in a home, and yet a child is nonetheless killed or badly hurt. Based on what it has learned from its internal reviews, the agency is working to be more sensitive during the intake process so legitimate abuse and neglect reports aren't screened out, she said. Once an investigation is opened, social workers are communicating more closely with their supervisors. When children at risk are 4 or younger, the county-level offices initiate a “high-risk consult that gets elevated to here (in Frankfort) at central office,” she said.

“I do think that we have done a good job of putting into place appropriate supports and higher-level reviews to ensure that a front-line worker isn't making a decision in isolation and has the support that they need, (and is also) looking comprehensively at what has happened with that case and with the prior history,” the commissioner said. “It's just continuous quality improvement over our work.”



Child Abuse Legal Awareness

by Peyton LoCicero

Lynn Haven, Fla. -- Many people aren't aware that some Florida laws, regarding child abuse, changed a few years ago. It is now mandatory for anyone who suspects abuse to immediately report it to police or the department of children and family. That even goes for tourists.

"If you suspect it report it. If it's not happening, we're not going to go out and take children from their parents and arrest people. We are going to ensure it is not happening and in that case we will move on and let the family move on. But make the report if you suspect it," said Lieutenant Jeremy Mathis, Bay County Sheriff's Office.

When Bay County Sheriff's investigators arrested a Panama City couple this week, only one of them was accused of sexual molestation children. Authorities say they charged 52-year old Shirley Tanner because she did not report the alleged abuse being committed by 57-year Rocky Allen Cook. As they investigated, they say it became apparent there was more than one victim and that tanner, who was the caregiver, was aware it was going.

Bay County Sheriff's officials are working hard to raise awareness about child abuse. But, they say that in order for them to stop it, they need help from the public.

"The biggest thing is report it. I think that people in the state of Florida are not aware that the law has changed a couple of years ago and now every person in the state of Florida, whether they live here, are visiting here or they are vacationing here, they are a mandatory reporter to the department of children and family if you suspect child abuse," said Mathis.

In the cook and tanner case of, the victims claimed they had previously told tanner about cook abusing them.And by failing to report it or kick cook out of the home, her silence allowed additional abuse to occur.

"The children that were interviewed in reference to that case had told her of some of the inappropriate touching that was going on and some of the molestation incidents that had occurred. And she had continued to allow him access not only to the children but to the house. And in times unsupervised access where she was not there. So she could not insure the safety of the children," said Mathis.

Cook is being held in the Bay County jail on $50,000 bond. He's charged with 1-count of Lewd & Lascivious acts, molesting a victim less than 12-years old. Tanner is charged with 1-count of abuse of a child without great bodily harm. She's free on pre-trial release.


New Mexico

AG backs bill to improve responses to child abuse cases

by Dan Boyd

SANTA FE, N.M. — wing his agency to order independent investigations.

Critics say the state's current system allows at-risk children to fall through the cracks, such as Victoria Martens, a 10-year old Albuquerque girl who was sexually assaulted and killed last year.

Both the state Children, Youth and Families Department and the Albuquerque Police Department were told about allegations involving Martens in the months before her death, but the agencies have maintained they followed set policies and were limited in what actions they could take.

In a Thursday news conference, Balderas, a Democrat, said recent cases – including the Martens case – have shown the need for a more collaborative approach to combat child abuse.

“This legislation would identify funding and jurisdictional gaps that may have played a role in past tragedies,” Balderas said. “As children are dying, we have to improve the system.”

He also presented statistics indicating 27 New Mexico minors were homicide victims during a recent three-year period – more than half of them at the hands of primary caregivers.

The legislation backed by the AG's Office was filed at the state Capitol this week by Senate Majority Whip Michael Padilla, D-Albuquerque.

It would create a team consisting of prosecutors, judges, law enforcement officers and child-safety workers to review child abuse-related homicides. Although some of the group's work would be confidential, it would be required to submit an annual public report to state officials and lawmakers, which could include recommendations for policy changes or new laws.

Asked whether the legislation would impose an unfunded mandate on already cash-strapped agencies, Balderas said he's been in touch with top officials at the Children, Youth and Families Department about potential options, including using existing revenues.

Padilla, the bill's sponsor, said Thursday that he grew up in an abusive home and is determined to improve the state's preparedness for and response to child abuse cases.

“I do believe these are some of the worst crimes that have happened in the history of New Mexico,” Padilla said, referring to the cases of Victoria Martens and Omaree Varela, who was killed by his mother in 2013.

Also attending Thursday's news conference was Laura Bobbs, a minister and close friend of Victoria Martens' family, who called the recent string of cases tragic.

“It has to stop, and we will find the ways and means to stop it,” she said.

The measure, Senate Bill 294, has been assigned to three committees and was still awaiting its first hearing as of Thursday.



'Horrific' extent of Catholic child abuse

by Megan Neil

The horrific extent of child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy in Australia will be laid bare in a world first as its apologetic leaders pledge to "eradicate this evil".

Data on abuse claims in the Catholic Church will be released as part of a royal commission hearing that begins on Monday.

The head of the church's Truth Justice and Healing Council expects the community will be shocked by the extent of abuse revealed by church records going back to the 1950s.

"It will reveal a horrific picture of the extent of the claims of abuse by priests and brothers whose responsibility was to protect and care for children," TJHC chief executive Francis Sullivan said.

"I was quite confronted by it and I'm sure I won't be alone on that."

Mr Sullivan believes it is the first time in the world the Catholic Church's records on child sexual abuse have been compiled and analysed for public consideration.

"It's terribly important for the complete story to be told," he told AAP.

The records used in the royal commission's data survey cover child sex abuse claims received by Catholic Church authorities in Australia.

However Mr Sullivan acknowledges the data will not reveal the full extent of abuse in Catholic institutions as some victims never come forward.

"These are the known claims and we all know that a lot of adult survivors of abuse tell no one, ever."

Australia's Catholic leaders have again apologised for the "confronting and shameful" history of abuse as they brace for the royal commission's final public hearing on the church, the 15th directly focused on it and 20th it has been involved in.

Australian Catholic Bishops Conference president, Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart, said the leaders will explain what the church has been doing to change the old culture that allowed abuse to continue and to improve its response to allegations and better protect children.

Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge said it was not enough to change procedures and protocols.

"We have to shift the culture. And that's a much more difficult thing to do," he said.

Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe said the Catholic community was deeply shamed by the failures of so many in the church and horrified by the suffering inflicted on so many innocent people.

"As a church we are committed now to doing everything we can to ensure that this evil is eradicated from our midst," he said in a pastoral letter this week.

The hearing will run for three weeks and one day, much longer than upcoming final hearings for institutions such as the Anglican and Uniting churches.


United Kingdom

Archbishop of Canterbury issues 'unreserved and unequivocal' apology after links to ‘child abuser' emerge

by Patrick Foster, Nicola Harley and Lydia Willgress

The Archbishop of Canterbury issued an “unreserved and unequivocal” apology on Wednesday on behalf of the Church of England after admitting he had worked at holiday camps at which teenage boys were groomed for abuse.

The Most Rev Justin Welby said the Church had “failed terribly” by not reporting John Smyth QC, the head of the Christian charity that ran the summer camps, to police after he was accused of carrying out a string of “horrific” sado-masochistic attacks in the late Seventies.

Channel 4 News will on Thursday broadcast allegations that Mr Smyth used the camps, which were attended by boys from some of Britain's leading public schools, to gain access to teenagers, whom he forced to strip naked before subjecting them to savage beatings.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the Archbishop said that he had been friends with Mr Smyth during the late Seventies, when he worked as a dormitory officer at the camps, run by the Iwerne Trust, and had kept in “occasional” contact with the barrister since.

The Archbishop says that he was made aware of the allegations against Mr Smyth in 2013 when police eventually became involved.

The QC, who acted for Mary Whitehouse, the public morals campaigner, in some of her most-high profile court cases, is accused of recruiting 22 young men into a cult in which they agreed to let him administer tens of thousands of lashes with a garden cane, supposedly to purge them of minor sins such as masturbation and pride.

The beatings, which took place in a shed in the garden of Mr Smyth's Winchester home, were so intense that the victims were left with lasting scars.

One alleged victim, Mark Stibbe, alleged Mr Smyth told him the beatings would “help you become holy”. Another alleged victim, Richard Gittins, said boys who were beaten were forced to wear adult nappies in order to let their wounds heal.

The assaults, which carried on for at least three years, only came to light in 1982, when one boy, then a 21-year-old student at Cambridge, attempted suicide after being ordered to submit himself to another beating.

The Iwerne Trust commissioned a report into the allegations, which was carried out by Mark Ruston, a vicar who was also a friend of the Archbishop. The report concluded: “The scale and severity of the practice was horrific.”

However, neither the charity nor Winchester College, a number of whose pupils were attacked, reported Mr Smyth to the police.

He was instead allowed to leave the country after agreeing never to work with children again.

Channel 4 News will on Thursday show footage of Mr Smyth, 75, being doorstepped by Cathy Newman, the newsreader, and asked about the claims.

He told the broadcaster: “I'm not talking about that. I don't know anything about that.”

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the Archbishop admitted he had kept in occasional contact with Mr Smyth, who subsequently moved to South Africa, but did not hear about the allegations until four years ago, when one of the victims made a complaint to the Church, which was also reported to the police.

The statement said: “The Archbishop of Canterbury was a dormitory officer at Iwerne holiday camp in the late 1970s, where boys from public schools learnt to develop life as Christians. The role was to be a mentor to the boys, as was that of his now wife at a similar camp for girls.

“John Smyth was one of the main leaders at the camp and although the Archbishop worked with him, he was not part of the inner circle of friends; no one discussed allegations of abuse by John Smyth with him.

“The Archbishop left England to work in Paris for an oil company in 1978, where he remained for five years.

“The Archbishop knew Mr Smyth had moved overseas but, apart from the occasional card, did not maintain contact with him.”

The statement concluded: “We recognise that many institutions fail catastrophically, but the Church is meant to hold itself to a far, far higher standard and we have failed terribly. For that the Archbishop apologises unequivocally and unreservedly to all survivors.”

The Iwerne camps were also known as “Bash camps”, after their founder E. J. H. Nash, an Anglican minister affectionately known as “Bash”, who founded the movement in the early 1930s.

A biography of the Archbishop states that he gained much of his early grounding in Christian doctrine via his involvement with the camps, in a period that spanned his late teens and his time as a Cambridge undergraduate.



Mother Accused of Horrific Child Abuse Wants Better Jail Cell

by Inside Edition

A Utah mom who was arrested last month after allegedly leaving her 12-year-old son locked up for as long as two years in a filthy bathroom is asking for better jail conditions.

&&Brandy Jaynes has been in jail since last month, when she was arrested in the case of the boy, who had wasted away to just 30 pounds and "looked like he was the victim of a concentration camp," Washington County authorities said.

Jaynes has since been held on a $20,000 cash-only bond — an amount her attorney says she can't pay — in a cell with only a cot and no shower access.

“Either she's got to have a reasonable bond amount she can pay, or she's got to have a bed and a shower at the jail,” attorney Edward Flint told St. George News.

Flint has filed for a bail hearing at which he'll ask the amount be lowered.

Jaynes was charged with felony child abuse on January 9 after the boy was discovered by his father.

The little boy's siblings told police that their brother had been kept in the bathroom for between one and two years and they had not spoken with him through the door of their Tocqueville home in six months, the Washington County Sheriff's Office told reporters.

"A baby monitor was set up so voices could come in but not out. So they could give instructions to the child that was in the room," WCSO Lt. David Crouse told CBS.

The hearing is scheduled for Thursday.

Saying the space would fit his “definition of a torture room,” Crouse said there was fecal matter and urine on the floor, open cans of food and a video camera capable of Wi-Fi monitoring.

Authorities believe the child was also likely kept in the dark, as the light switches in the room were covered and wrapped heavily with duct tape, preventing the light from being turned on.

He was unable to stand on his own and weighed just 30 pounds, investigators said.

The boy was taken to a nearby hospital, where a doctor treating him reportedly said it was the worst case of malnourishment he had ever seen.

Two other children, whose ages were not revealed, were also found to be living in the home, but they were healthy, Crouse said.

Jaynes reportedly told police that her son chose to sleep and stay in the bathroom, and that she tried feeding him protein shakes to increase his weight.

Jaynes is due in court for a new bond hearing on Thursday.



Authorities uncover five decades of sexual abuse at Bucks County boarding school

D.A.: 'Preying on these children was like shooting fish in a barrel'

by Jerry Gaul

Administrators of a Bucks County boarding school allegedly allowed teachers to sexually abuse students for more than 50 years, according to a grand jury report.

The Bucks County District Attorney's Office released the details of the report on Wednesday outlining decades of abuse at Solebury School, which serves children in grades seven through 12, near New Hope. Most of the assaults occurred on or near the school's campus, but some happened in New York City.

However, no charges will be filed because some alleged perpetrators have died and the statute of limitations prevents others from being prosecuted. One case could be pursued, but the 27-year-old female victim declined to press charges because "she does not want to relive the abuse and testify in open court," authorities said.

Matthew Weintraub, the county's district attorney, noted that the public release of the investigation will help prevent similar incidents in the future.

"Preying on these children was like shooting fish in a barrel. This was child predation under the guise of progressive education. It's unconscionable,” Weintraub said.

The investigation was launched in July 2014 after the school's current headmaster, Tom Wilschultz, learned of the abuse that had been covered up by previous administrations. In a letter to the school community, officials admitted wrongdoing and urged additional victims to come forward.

The grand jury's report, which said Wilschultz “is blameless and has taken some steps to correct the problems,” described a "culture of concealment" that allowed teachers to allegedly systematically prey on students from the 1950s until 2005.

During that time, school officials never reported assaults to police or child protective services.

Only one teacher ever was arrested and charged with a crime in the five-decade period. In November 1996, David Chadwick faced charges after the girl told police they had a sexual relationship when she was in 10th grade during the 1993-1994 school year. The victim also noted that school administrators knew about the relationship, but allowed Chadwick to finish the school year.

After Chadwick pleaded guilty and was sentenced to one to three years in prison, the school settled a lawsuit filed by the victim for between $700,000 and $800,000.

The grand jury identified nine individuals associated with the school that could have faced charges. When questioned, several invoked their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination while those who did not were not found credible.

Under Wilschultz's direction, the school has implemented stronger policies for reporting allegations of sexual misconduct and provided training for teachers on setting boundaries with students.

The Solebury School boasts a current enrollment of 235 students on its website.



Nebraska could expand program aimed at neglected children

by Grant Schulte

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska lawmakers are looking to expand a pilot program that was designed to keep more neglected children with their families, as long as steps can be taken to keep them safe.

Two bills presented to a legislative committee on Wednesday would continue the state's alternative response program, which is slated to end July 1.

The program in 57 counties is aimed at parents deemed a low risk to hurt their children, allowing them to avoid law enforcement and the courts. Some neglect cases are tied to poverty or a parent's workload rather than intentional mistreatment, and can be addressed by providing food, transportation, temporary child care and other services.

The alternative response program stems from a 2013 law that allowed social workers to take a different approach when responding to abuse and neglect allegations if factors such as poverty are at play.

In the past, state officials treated a mother who refused to feed her child the same as a mother who simply couldn't afford food. Children in both cases were often removed from their homes.

State workers are still required to call law enforcement in more extreme cases, such as when children have been seriously injured, sexually assaulted or exposed to illegal drugs.

Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services CEO Courtney Phillips said the new process helps build trust between at-risk families and her agency. She pointed to a case involving a woman who left her child in a car for 20 minutes because of work obligations. State officials learned the woman was going through a divorce and didn't have immediate access to child care.

"It was just basic necessities she needed," Phillips said.

Nebraska currently has 240 families enrolled in the alternative response program and has served a total of 770 since it was launched in October 2014, said Russ Reno, a department spokesman.

Advocates for children and low-income families said they support the concept but objected to one of the bills introduced on the department's behalf that would have reduced oversight of the program. Others expressed concerns about county attorneys being kept out of the loop on cases they may want to follow.

The bill "removes transparency and accountability in the child welfare system," said Sarah Helvey, a staff attorney for the group Nebraska Appleseed.

Helvey pointed to the state's failed effort to privatize child welfare services, which led lawmakers to conclude that the Legislature needed stronger oversight of child welfare services. She said her group has concerns about families in the program understanding their rights and receiving the services they need, rather than just referrals to other assistance programs.

Julia Tse, a policy associate for Voices for Children in Nebraska, said her group hasn't seen hard evidence that the program works as intended.

"We're not quite ready to say whether this should be a permanent part of our system," she said. "The jury's still out."

Advocates say keeping the children at home if they're considered safe is less traumatic than removing them from their families.

The alternative response program was allowed through a five-year federal waiver that gives the department more flexibility in how it spends federal and state money on child welfare services.

The second bill would expand the program to all 93 Nebraska counties and extend its expiration date to December 2020. Sen. Sue Crawford of Bellevue said she introduced the bill to give the department and lawmakers more time to evaluate the program.



End of adult ads doesn't slow torrent of sex trafficking in metro area

Washington County investigators tracked nearly 75,000 ads in different categories.

by Kevin Giles

Sex trafficking of women and girls in the metro area continues to thrive despite's recent shutdown of its escort section, according to an investigation by the Washington County attorney's office.

Advertising in dating and romance categories on soared nearly overnight as sex traffickers quickly adjusted to the demise of adult escort ads, said Imran Ali, Washington County's major crimes prosecutor.

Analysts in Washington County Attorney Pete Orput's office tracked 74,273 sex ads that were placed in the metro area in 2016 on Predators placed most of the ads, seeking customers for women and girls who in many cases were forced into the illicit sex trade.

“We know the sale of human beings in the Twin Cities metro area is unfortunately commerce,” Ali said. “The new age of a predator is behind a screen, not on the street or in the window.”

Despite accelerated arrests and prosecutions in all metro counties, the sex trafficking problem remains daunting for law enforcement. Easy internet hookups have driven what once was known as urban street prostitution to the suburbs, leading to a sharp uptick in sex trafficking everywhere in the metro area. Predators use texting and online chat rooms to make connections, often disguising their internet ads to hide that they're selling sex with underage girls and sometimes boys.

“Maybe the most pernicious crime and the most exploitative involves our kids getting trafficked. These crimes don't stop ... if we don't protect our kids I don't think anybody will feel safe,” Orput said Wednesday. abruptly closed its adult advertising section Jan. 9 after the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations released a report alleging the website concealed criminal activity in its adult advertising. The panel said removed words such as “Lolita,” “innocent,” “Amber Alert” and “school girl” from ads that would have exposed child sex trafficking.

Disclaimers reading “CENSORED” in red letters now appear on Backpage's adult escort section, with the message: “The government has unconstitutionally censored this content.”

Backpage isn't the only website that allows advertisements for sex trafficking, but it's the one most commonly tracked in Minnesota.

Twelve sex traffickers were charged metrowide in 2016, as were hundreds of men caught soliciting sex. Many of them were arrested in police stings where detectives posed as underage girls. Thirty-one victims were “recovered” in 2016.

Ali said Washington County has charged six sex trafficking cases in the past five weeks. More traffickers arrested of late are people with prior convictions, and in one case two traffickers met in prison, he said.

Paul Kroshus, a Woodbury police detective assigned to the Washington County sex trafficking unit, said the problem is becoming more noticeable “because we're getting better at what we do.”

Arrests in Woodbury, second in population only to St. Paul among the east metro's largest cities, have been more evident in recent months because of training and awareness among police and hotel owners, he said.

The Washington County investigation, tracked by analysts Aimee Schroeder, Jessica Hockley and Erinn Valine, showed sex trafficking ads shifting suddenly in the days after shut down its escort section.

Ali and his analysts shared their findings, including leads uncovered to prosecute predators and help victims, with other county attorneys and metro police agencies.

In the metro area, the site's “massage” section ballooned from 14 posts on the day of the shutdown to 241 posts on Jan. 25. The “women seeking men” section, which had 23 posts on the day of the shutdown, shot to 231 on Jan. 25.

“The shutdown of the escort section has not appeared to affect the number of posts for commercial sex on, only where the advertisements are being posted,” Hockley said.

Kroshus said has been “compliant” in sharing information with law enforcement but said it's also the biggest hub for sex trafficking ads. It appears that limiting sex ads in one place won't reduce threats to women and girls but merely push it someplace else, he said.

Ali said that Backpage “made millions of dollars in trafficking of children,” much as the U.S. Senate investigation concluded.

“They made a profit, they made a significant profit,” he said. “Backpage has proved that the model they have for online solicitation works. We know it works because of the money that was made. What's to prevent somebody else from doing it?”



Morris pastor opens outreach center for women stuck in sex trafficking industry

by Heidi Litchfield

MORRIS – When Pastor Esther Holiday was a young girl, she was forced to leave a home where abuse occurred more days than not.

At 17 years old, she took to the streets of Chicago with a boyfriend and soon found herself in a situation she had no control over – prostitution.

“I had to leave my home; if you knew the kind of home it was you'd understand,” she said. “I hit the streets and got in with the wrong type of people.”

Today, Holiday is a pastor at House of Glory for all Nations Church in Morris, where she has made it her mission to provide girls, who are now like she was a way out of the streets and the sex trafficking industry.

She said it's important to bring the message to all people, even the small rural towns such as Morris where young girls are kidnapped and sold to sex traffickers and forced to do things they never intended to do.

She said with the internet, sex traffickers have found their way into lives of girls everywhere, so she founded the Love Outreach Training and Development Center to educate Morris and surrounding communities about sex trafficking and give the girls someone to reach out to.

On Saturday, Holiday held an open house at the center's new office at 1522 Creek Drive in Morris.

She said she is working with Selah Freedom and Dream Center, both of Chicago, as well as Children of the Night in California in an effort to reach the girls being trafficked and give them someone to call who can help them escape.

In addition to those groups, she also is working with a local trauma nurse and a therapist from Guardian Angel Services as she moves forward.

She said networking with other agencies helps her to have resources to get the girls out safely and to people who are equipped to take care of their physical and emotional scars as well as provide them with a place to live.

Holiday said she will be reaching out to Morris Community High School to see how she can help educate the local girls on what to watch for and how to avoid situations that could land them in the world of sex trafficking.

For information, call Holiday at 815-651-8564 or email


New York

NYPD Launches Crackdown on Sex Trafficking

by Danielle Tcholakian

CIVIC CENTER — The NYPD is making new efforts to go after "pimps and johns" responsible for sex trafficking, Police Commissioner James O'Neill and First Lady Chirlane McCray announced Wednesday.

The department is adding 25 detectives to the Vice squad, specifically to investigate sex trafficking, and has launched a 24-hour hotline staffed by specially trained Special Victims Division investigators, where people can call to anonymously report trafficking.

Human trafficking is "one of the fastest growing criminal enterprises in the world," O'Neill said, and according to McCray, New York is the fourth highest state for sex trafficking.

According to Department of Homeland Security information provided by Mayor Bill de Blasio's office, the U.S. is the second highest destination for trafficked women and New York City is one of the top points of entry for trafficking victims and where many of them remain.

Thanks in part to help from the public, the NYPD investigated 175 more prostitution cases in 2016 compared to 2015, O'Neill said, for a total of 1,700 cases last year.

The NYPD's new efforts involve "altering the law enforcement mindset through training and recognition" and include a renewed focus on "more longterm investigations," O'Neill said.

"We've already switched much of our emphasis away from prostitutes and began to focus much more on the pimps who sell them and the johns who pay for their services," O'Neill said.

The NYPD is planning to train patrol officers to "better recognize trafficking victims during daily encounters with the public" and to conduct "more undercover operations that target johns on the streets and in hotels around the city," O'Neill said.

"A lot of the hotels around the city are historically problematic" and "facilitate prostitution," said Inspector James Klein, who heads Vice Enforcement for the police department.

"This is happening all over. There is no boundaries, no social class, no religious group. It's a problem and that's why we're here, to make people aware," he said.

National experts in neurobiology, psychology and investigation will train the department's trafficking investigators in Forensic Experiential Trauma Interview, or FETI, techniques to "teach the NYPD how to interview trafficking victims in ways that help us build and collect evidence for cases without further harming them," O'Neill said.

The police department is also working "closer than ever with nonprofits in the field to make sure victims get the services they need as quickly as possible," O'Neill said, as he was joined by Lori Cohen, the director of an anti-trafficking initiative run by Sanctuary for Families, the largest provider of services for such victims in New York state.

Cohen praised the NYPD's new approach.

"By developing strategies that target those who buy and sell sex rather than those who are bought and sold, the NYPD is shutting off the economic engine that drives commercial sexual exploitation," she said.

Cohen was accompanied to the presser by a woman named Carmen, whose last name was not released for her own safety.

Carmen was kidnapped in Mexico when she was 14 and trafficked to the United States at 15 and forced into sex work, Cohen said.

She escaped when she was 20 and "saw her trafficker sentenced at 23," Cohen said.

Cohen indicated that recent executive orders by President Donald Trump on sanctuary cities and immigration may strengthen the tactics that traffickers use to control victims.

"Traffickers use not only force or fraud to control their victims, but also fear," she said. "Fear of arrest if the victims tries to flee, fear of deportation if she tried to report her abuse to law enforcement, fear of being punished rather than helped for seeking freedom.

"Today's announcement has a particular resonance for immigrant victims of trafficking who wish to gain their freedom," she added. "If you seek help you will not be arrested or deported. New York remains a sanctuary city."



Raising sex trafficking awareness on college campuses

by Christel Langue

“You can sell a bag of drugs one time, but you can sell a human being more than once.”

Heather Evans, a social worker in private practice and co-founder and chair of survival services at the Valley Against Sex Trafficking (VAST), an organization based in the Lehigh Valley, held a talk in Maginnes on Monday.

Evans talked about the dangers, prevention and reality of sex trafficking. It is a covert and active industry that is silently taking place in the community, Evans said. She spoke to a full room, with barely any standing room for latecomers. Through a PowerPoint presentation, Evans shared facts, figures, quotes and stories to educate the Lehigh community of the realities of sex trafficking.

“I can't speak for everyone, but I personally had no idea how local the issue was, how close it is, so I don't think many that didn't attend know either,” Cynthia Gatua, '20, said. “I attended because I always felt sex trafficking was one of those issues in the background of society that sounded way more important than how people treated it.”

Evans said nearly 100 percent of the girls that are helped by VAST are from the United States, and 90 percent of them have been exposed to sexual abuse as a child. Though human trafficking is not as easy or obvious to spot as someone involved in an illegal drug trade, chances are the practice is just as common, according to VAST.

“Human trafficking is not a new issue, but it is a relatively young field in terms of identifying victims and restoring them,” Evans said.

Most prostitution and trafficking is set up online through websites like Evans emphasized the exploitation involved in sex trafficking and that the people involved are victims. She said 13 is the average age of entry into the industry, and there are cases of girls as young as the age of four. Evans said most underage girls are being sold from family members.

According to VAST, between 85 and 95 percent of prostitution is pimp controlled, and it often leads to drug and alcohol addiction. Trafficked men and women may be forced to service as many as 110 customers in one day. One in four women in the United States will have been abused sexually before the age of 18.

Kiera Kehoe, '19, attended the event and said immediate action needs to be taken. She suggested more talks like the one on Monday and increased media coverage to make college students more aware of the issue.

VAST held its first community meeting in 2011 to begin working to combat sex trafficking in the Lehigh Valley. It became an official non-profit organization in June 2015. The organization uses a community-based model of care, boasting a “victim-centered approach.” Members are working on a curriculum to be implemented into schools that extends from Kindergarten to the 12th grade to educate students on the issue and increase awareness among children.

Joshua Finkelstein, '18, was involved in the event's planning and marketing.

“If Lehigh students truly care about this issue, the next step is for them to organize to take action,” he said.



Sex trafficking cases on the rise in Ohio, report shows

by Ted Hart

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A new report released Tuesday shows a significant increase in the number of human trafficking cases nationwide. The report is from Polaris – the organization that operates the National Human Trafficking Hotline.

The report shows 375 cases of sex trafficking in Ohio were reported to the National Hotline in 2016, up from 289 cases reported in 2015.

Courtney Schmackers, a spokesperson for She Has A Name, a faith-based organization, says much of the increase in Ohio can be attributed to better training and awareness. “Being able to say, ‘you know, I don't think this is someone who's just overdosing, I don't just think this is someone who happened to get beat up by a spouse', they're recognizing there's a larger picture and a larger story here,” Schmackers said.

She Has A Name is one of a number of organizations in Central Ohio that offer training and provide help for victims.

In 2016, Ohio became the first state to require that all new truck drivers get one hour of training on how to recognize and report cases of human trafficking.

And Schmackers says perceptions have changed among law enforcement, health care workers and others. Where they once might have just seen a prostitute, now they see a victim of human trafficking.

“We might be looking at the same picture, the same person but seeing a very different story of what they've gone through to end up where they are,” Schmackers said.

The 8th annual Ohio Human Trafficking Awareness Day is scheduled for this Thursday and Friday at the Ohio Statehouse. This year the event will also include a Youth Summit that will bring together high school and college students from around the state to share stories and learn from each other.



474 arrested in California human trafficking stings, LA County sheriff says

by ABC 7

LOS ANGELES -- Authorities say 474 people have been arrested in a multiday sting operation focused on human trafficking in California.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell said Tuesday the arrests came after a three-day operation conducted by 30 law enforcement agencies across the state last week.

Investigators say as part of the sting, undercover officers posed as prostitutes on street corners and also posted advertisements online.

Officials say three dozen people were arrested on suspicion of being pimps.

They say officers also rescued 28 children who were being sexually exploited and offered services to 27 adults they said were victims of sex trafficking.

McDonnell says the arrests represent a "very sad commentary on the condition we're dealing with."

District Attorney Jackie Lacey says authorities won't tolerate children being sexually exploited.



How "Laura's" Chicago Trip Turned Into Sex Trafficking

by Mike Tobias

“Laura” thought she was on the road to a better life the day she left Omaha for a trip to Chicago. A couple years earlier she was gang raped, then trafficked by an abusive boyfriend who also got her hooked on drugs. But she got help, got clean, and went back to school and church. She met a new guy who was a little mysterious but nice and clean-cut. They were just friends. They'd known each other about a year when he told “Laura” he was driving to Chicago, and offered a ride so she could hang out with friends. Everything was great until they reached the city.

“I'm sitting in the car and he's like, ‘Can I use your phone really quick?' Being naïve and young I just passed him over what I would call my lifeline,” “Laura” recalled in an interview for the NET News “Sold for Sex: Survivor Stories” documentary. “Follow him inside and it's one of those brick duplex houses, it felt like probably four different little apartments in one house. I remember going in and as we were about to go downstairs he just turns at me, he punches me in my face and I feel the blood running down. He just looks at me and he's like, ‘Don't do anything stupid, do whatever I tell you to do.' So I'm thinking in my head, ‘What the, what is going on? What is he talking about?'”

“Laura” said she was thrown in a dark room with red lights, a concrete floor and a bed built into the wall.

“That whole time was a blur, being drugged, beat, raped repeatedly,” “Laura” said. “I mean you wake up and it was the next guy, and you just pray the next guy was nice or pray that they would use a condom. I remember every time the door opened I would cringe because I didn't know if I was going to get beat. I didn't know if this next guy was going to be violent. I never knew. You had no control of your life or what happens to you.”

“He had my phone and he was using it to contact, like when my parents would contact me he would text as me,” she said. “If they would call too much he would give me the phone. But before any time he would give me the phone he would threaten me and say, ‘Remember I know where your family lives and remember I will kill your nephew.' You don't know how many days you've been passed out because sometimes they would beat you so bad that you just go unconscious. Or you'd be so drugged-up you don't know.”

“Laura” thought the nightmare was over when her traffickers came in one day and said “we're leaving.” But instead they were driving her to South Dakota and a house “Laura” said was busy with drugs, gambling and prostitution.

“And the cycle begins all over again,” she said. “One john after the next john after the next john after the next john. Then when you think you're done, then you have all the pimps and they take their turn at you.”

“I kind of had become accustomed, I was smart I never back-talked,” “Laura” remembered. “They asked me to do something, I did it. I cooked, I cleaned. It was like slavery like slave days, you were just modern day. You never would think driving past this house that there are girls in there that can't leave.”

“There were a lot of times where death seemed a lot better than what I was living,” she said. “I had become so numb to the men beating and just doing whatever they wanted with me. It didn't bother me no more and that's a scary feeling when someone could come in there and punch you in your face, beat you, rape you, try to mutilate, do all that stuff to you and it didn't matter no more. You lose your sense of worth. You don't feel like a human being and I think that's the biggest thing with a lot trafficking victims people don't understand.”

Then came the turning point. “Laura's” traffickers told her they were moving again. This time leaving everything about her life behind. Her family, no one would know where she was going.

“If I didn't do something or if I didn't try to run I could disappear, and I wouldn't be sitting here right now,” she recalled. “I knew what disappear meant. I knew what that meant and I just didn't feel like giving up yet.”

“Laura” made up a story about needing to go a nearby gas station. She jumped a fence and ran, got to a phone and got to local police, who she said were more interested in a drug investigation. Then she waited for her parents to come and bring her back to Nebraska. The next day they took her to the hospital to begin treatment of a long list of injuries.

“Truth be said I pray I can still have kids after the damage that's been done to me,” “Laura” said. “But the physical damage doesn't compare to the mental and emotional damage that I had. For a good three months maybe, three to five months, I didn't want to leave the house. If my parents weren't going I wasn't going. How can I explain it? It was like shell shock. Everything scared me, everything frightened me.”

Which brings us to now. “Laura” found a good counselor and her parents helped her decide to be a victor, not a victim. She earned a college degree and has a good job. She still fights post-traumatic stress disorder. And she does want others to learn from her story.

“Hopefully it opens people's eyes, that they start to be more aware of their surroundings and what's going on,” Laura” said. “Maybe it'll make a mom check their daughter's Facebook and stuff more. My biggest thing is just I share my story for awareness so that there won't be another me. Or I can save another girl's life and give a mom hope, give a dad hope that their child can make it through it.”

Because “Laura” said what happened to her can happen to anyone.



Horrors scalded Tucson girl faced included living with sex offender

by Patty Machelor

Before being submerged in scalding water, allegedly by the woman who recently adopted her, a Tucson 5-year-old lived with a foster father now imprisoned for sex crimes against children.

The girl, who is in critical condition, had been shuttled from one troubled home life to another before 911 responders found her severely burned on Dec. 29.

State authorities had removed her from her biological parents and placed her, as a toddler, in the Sierra Vista home of David Frodsham, where she lived with other foster children from 2013 until January 2015.

Frodsham was arrested in 2016 after federal authorities accused him of sexual misconduct with children and of providing at least one child to an alleged child pornographer, Randall Bischak, for sexual contact. The foster father eventually pleaded guilty to counts involving a child over age 15, in return for prosecutors dropping other charges. The names of child sex victims are not public record and would not be published by the Arizona Daily Star.

Previous reports on his case quote a federal criminal complaint as saying Bischak and Frodsham allegedly met for consensual sex with children present.

The biological mother of the Tucson child says she raised concerns with state workers that while living in Frodsham's home, her toddler daughter had repeated urinary-tract infections, which can be a sign of sexual abuse in children, but says those concerns went unanswered.

From Frodsham's home, the little girl had to commute nearly 90 minutes each way to see her biological parents in Tucson. She initially would “cry until she fell asleep” after she left her parents, said Beth Breen, a former taxi driver for children in state custody. Breen took the child back and forth for nearly a year, ending in March 2014.

The little girl would scream in fear around strange men, Breen said, making it nearly impossible for male drivers to take her, and so Breen said she became her regular driver. Breen would sing to her and the girl would watch movies on a DVD player Breen bought for the drive.

Breen has had trouble sleeping since she realized, about a week ago, that the little girl in the news was the toddler she'd transported.

After the recent news reports, Breen looked up the child's adoptive parents on social media and saw family photographs that confirmed her fears: This was the same girl she had known.

“We spent a lot of time together. We would sing songs and play ‘I spy,'” Breen said. “I would know that child anywhere. I have always had a special place in my heart for her.”

Arizona Department of Child Safety records show that the girl's biological mother, Michelle Tremor-Calderon, was nearly reunified with the child before her parental rights were terminated in 2015.

What Calderon desperately wants now — and she has asked Tucson attorney Lynne Cadigan to help her — is to see her hospitalized daughter and, if the little girl is not going to survive, to say goodbye.

The child was adopted last summer by Samantha and Justin Osteraas and given a new name, law enforcement records and accounts on social media show.

Samantha Osteraas, 28, was arrested Jan. 5 after the girl suffered third-degree burns over 80 percent of her body, from the upper chest down, sheriff's records show. Osteraas might have waited up to six hours to seek medical treatment, court records say. She told 911 dispatchers she didn't realize she was bathing her daughter in scalding water.

Deputies also noted bruises to the child's neck and left arm, and saw blood and signs of trauma on her upper lip. Hours after the incident, the 5-year-old was reported to be in respiratory and organ failure. She remains at Banner-University Medical Center in a medically induced coma.

DCS spokesman Darren DaRonco said Samantha Osteraas did not have a history as a perpetrator with the child-welfare agency before this case.

After the arrest, the DCS removed the Osteraas' three young biological children from the family's home near North Shannon Road and West Lambert Lane. It is unclear whether they have been reunified with their father.

Samantha Osteraas, charged with two counts of child abuse, was released Thursday from the Pima County jail on a bond of $25,000.

Calderon learned a little more than a week ago that the hospitalized girl was the child she'd lost. Calderon has not seen her daughter since July 2015, but, like Breen, looked up the adoptive parents on social media and saw her daughter in their family photos.

The girl was taken from her in April 2013 following a domestic fight between Calderon and the child's father, Jonathan Hileman. She remained in foster care while her parents, who struggled with cocaine addiction, worked toward reunification.

The girl's father, who is a registered sex offender from a 1999 crime involving an adult victim, had failed to notify police about his new address, and that was another factor in their case, at least initially.

Throughout the dependency case, Hileman continued to relapse while Calderon began to sustain her sobriety, reports show.

As of May 2014, Calderon was moving toward reunification with her daughter when she violated a court order by letting the father, who was not allowed unsupervised visitation, to be at home with them.

The couple tried to remedy that significant error by later separating, records show. In February 2015, Hileman relinquished his parental rights. Calderon said he did this primarily to help her regain custody of their daughter.

A couple of months later, in April 2015, court records showed Calderon to be in full compliance with her case plan. But the behavior of their then-3-year-old child was deteriorating around this time, DCS records show. She had prolonged temper tantrums, urinated on herself and cried for prolonged periods after her visits.

The child's caseworker and a DCS-appointed family therapist testified this was because the child was having difficulty relating to her mother, that the mother had “inappropriate conversations” in front of the child and “didn't know how to meet her daughter's emotional needs.”

In the end, a judge severed Calderon's parental rights based on her violating the court's orders related to Hileman, the length of time the child had been in out-of-home care without successful reunification — well beyond the nine months required by law — and the “serious negative behaviors” the child would exhibit around her mother but reportedly would not display when away from her.

Calderon tried to appeal the termination, but was not successful.

“They took her away,” she said last week, “and look what they've done to her.”

Calderon repeatedly told Breen, the driver, that she thought something was wrong while her daughter lived in Sierra Vista. Calderon said she was always on the watch, fearful her daughter was being mistreated — so much so that it was brought up as a problem in her trial to sever her parental rights.

At one point, Calderon called Sierra Vista police to have a welfare check done at the house, and this was not well-received by the DCS, according to both the mother and DCS records.

“I did address my concerns to the case manager and she had no concerns,” Calderon said. “She told me the (Frodsham) home was a good home and nothing like that was going on there.”

The repeated urinary-tract infections, which records show were treated following medical visits, were blamed mostly on the child consuming too many sugary drinks.

Records show the caseworker thought it was Calderon who was teaching her daughter to fear men and told her to stop more than once.

Breen, who also thought the Frodsham home seemed like a safe placement, said she feels guilty she didn't take Calderon's fears more seriously.

“When I was transporting her, her mom kept saying, ‘Something's not right, something's not right,'” Breen said. “I kept reassuring her that it seemed like a good home.”

Frodsham was licensed to have up to five foster children at a time, male and female, with the ages ranging from birth to 11, the DCS reported. DCS officials said they could not comment further on the case.

Breen said several foster children of various ages were living in the home when Calderon's child was there, including one other toddler. Frodsham was licensed as a foster parent in Arizona from 2002 until January 2015, when he was arrested on charges of aggravated drunk driving. His license was then suspended due to suspension of his fingerprint clearance card.

Frodsham was later charged with sex crimes after federal authorities, in 2016, alerted Sierra Vista police about his alleged involvement with Bischak, a former U.S. Army specialist. The Department of Homeland Security was investigating Bischak for allegedly producing and distributing child pornography.

Frodsham, who was indicted on seven counts related to sex crimes against children, pleaded guilty in June 2016 to three counts, including two counts of sexual conduct with a minor and attempted sexual conduct with a minor, said Cochise County Attorney Brian McIntyre.

Frodsham is now serving a 17-year prison sentence with the Arizona Department of Corrections and will be required to register as a sex offender for life.

There is an investigation pending on Bischak in Cochise County, but that's on hold until his federal case is done. Bischak was indicted on multiple counts of child pornography in a case pending in U.S. District Court in Tucson.

Calderon has a small collection of photographs from her visits with her daughter, along with photos she collected of bruises and scratched feet she feared indicated her daughter was being mistreated in foster care.

Months after her rights to her daughter had been severed, she learned about Frodsham's arrest.

She agonized over that, thinking — until now — it was the worst news she could ever hear.


New Hampshire

NH Senate bills would end statute of limitations for sex assaults

by Seacoast online

CONCORD - State Sens. Martha Fuller Clark, D-Portsmouth, and Lou D'Allesandro, D-Manchester, on Tuesday introduced Senate Bills 98 and 164 before the Judiciary Committee. Both bills increase protections for sexual assault survivors by eliminating the statute of limitations in sexual assault cases.

"We need to do more in New Hampshire to ensure that survivors are given the resources they need to seek justice," said Fuller Clark, prime sponsor of SB 98. "We don't know when an individual who has been traumatized will feel comfortable coming forward. The timing of these charges should not be arbitrary. The damage inflicted by rape never truly goes away. My hope is that this legislation will give survivors the chance to seek damages regardless of how many years have passed."

Current law imposes a six-year limitation on felony cases involving adult victims. In child sex abuse cases, prosecutors are given 22 years from the child's 18th birthday to bring charges forward in criminal cases, and until the victim's 30th birthday in civil cases. According to the New Hampshire Violence Against Women Survey, 41 percent of sexual assault crimes against women occur before they are 18 years old and 68 percent of sexual assault crimes against men occur before they are 18.

"Fortunately, scientific advancements in DNA testing and forensic science have made it so that the passage of time no longer presents the same obstacles to investigators as once was the case," added D'Allesandro, prime sponsor of SB 164. "We believe this legislation offers much needed changes to help survivors seek justice and find closure."



Teacher accused of failing to report suspected child abuse

by The Associated Press

APPLING (AP) -- A Columbia County teacher is charged with failing to report suspected child abuse after a parent discovered Snapchat messages between him and a student.

Local media report 34-year-old Jon Mark Thornhill Jr. was taken into custody Sunday.

An incident report says the child's mother contacted sheriff's deputies last week after finding messages between her 14-year-old daughter and Thornhill, who teaches at Columbia Middle School.

The mother told police that her daughter was acting suspiciously so she took her phone and saw several Snapchat messages, one of which stated the child had been sexually assaulted by her father in the past.

The report states that another message said the teen missed her teacher and his hugs.

It's unclear if Thornhill has an attorney.



Child abuse consultant trains local agencies

Jim Holler with National Children's Advocacy Center emphasizes need to identify predatory behavior

by Simone Jasper

Members of local government and nonprofit agencies learned about the value of collaborating to report child sexual abuse during a recent training session. Consultant Jim Holler emphasized the need for agency workers and other community members to identify predatory behavior.

“We think we're protecting our kids and don't have to worry about it,” Holler said. “It should be on the radar. People from across the board — judges, prosecutors, teachers — were arrested this year for abusing kids.”

Holler speaks throughout the country to convey approaches to protect child victims. He also hosts online training sessions for the National Children's Advocacy Center, according to its website.

Locally, Holler presented a case study about child sexual abuse during an all-day training session on Friday at the Rock the Desert site. The nationally recognized speaker said about 1 in 10 children experiences this type of abuse before age 18. He said the issue exists across the country.

“It's the same in every community,” Holler said. “There's no difference when it comes to sexual abuse of kids. Unfortunately, it's a problem.”

The Midland Victims Coalition sponsored Holler's visit. Amy Staggs, a coalition volunteer, said the message was important for people working at social services organizations and other local entities.

“He did a great presentation stressing different agencies and the community responding and working together — ways to cross check CPS, the school system, law enforcement and medical professionals who may have been involved in reporting abuse,” Staggs said. “He stressed reaching out. They're superheroes for kids in these situations.”

To better assist the agencies, Holler explained that offenders usually convince their victims to remain silent. Staggs hopes the speaker's insight will extend beyond the audience of professionals.

“If the education is out to the community, we can keep predators at bay,” Staggs said. “Most predators know the victim — a neighbor, family member or someone in the community. Mr. Holler's message keeps people alert.”

Holler delivered the training session the day after he shared online safety tips with parents and children at Anchor Athletics Academy. He said risks of computer and cell phone use likely affect young people in Midland.

“It's not any different,” Holler said. “I'm sure there are sexting issues in your schools right now. Of course, there's bullying too.”



Top private schools included as part of Scottish child abuse inquiry

Inquiry chair Lady Smith has said more than 100 locations so far have been identified for investigation, including current and former boarding schools

by The Press Association

More than 60 residential care establishments including several top private schools are being investigated by Scotland's national child abuse inquiry.

They are among more than 100 locations where the abuse of children is said to have taken place, chair Anne Smith confirmed.

Six boarding schools or former boarding schools, including Fettes college and Gordonstoun, are being investigated. Several faith-based organisations, other major care providers and local authority institutions are also being looked at by inquiry staff.

Lady Smith, a senior judge who was appointed to the role in July, named a list of places being investigated as she provided an update on the inquiry's progress at a preliminary hearing.

The inquiry is examining historical allegations of the abuse of children in care and has been taking statements from witnesses since last spring.

Smith told those gathered at Parliament House in Edinburgh that the inquiry is “determined to get to the bottom of any systemic failures that occurred”.

She said 170 people had contacted the inquiry by June last year and “many more have done so since”. Regarding institutions, she said: “We have identified more than 100 locations where abuse of children is said to have taken place but we know that there are many more than that.

“The inquiry team is currently investigating over 60 residential care establishments for children in order to gather, from those who ran them and others, evidence about how children who were being cared for in a range of different settings and by a number of different types of care organisations were treated.”

The other schools being investigated are the former Keil school, Loretto school, Merchiston Castle school, and Morrison's academy when it was a boarding school.

Investigations of institutions run by religious orders the Benedictines, Sisters of Nazareth, Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul, Christian Brothers, Sisters of our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, De la Salle Brothers and Marist Brothers are in progress.

Three Church of Scotland-run establishments being probed are Ballikinrain school, Geilsland residential school, and the Lord and Lady Polwarth Home for Children in Edinburgh, the hearing was told.

The team is further looking at how children were treated at institutions run by major care providers Quarriers, Barnardo's and Aberlour Child Care Trust, while eight homes and secure units across Edinburgh, Glasgow, Perth and Fife are also being probed.

In a 70-minute address, Smith confirmed child migrants will be included in the inquiry. Staff are said to be working to contact people in countries such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand who may have suffered abuse in Scotland, or after being sent abroad as part of past care arrangements.

She stressed the inquiry is independent of government, police, prosecutors and other organisations. The inquiry covers the period within memory of anyone who has suffered abuse, not beyond December 2014. Public hearings will begin on 31 May.

Smith appealed to anyone with evidence to speak to the inquiry and the team is launching a publicity campaign to increase awareness about its work.

“We are determined to find out the truth about what happened to children in care, where, how and why,” she said. “We want to find out why the abuse was not prevented, why it was not stopped, and what needs to be done to protect children in care in the future.”

She was appointed to lead the inquiry following the departure of its previous chair, Susan O'Brien QC – who is reported to be suing the Scottish government for £500,000 over claims it forced her out of the role.

A Scottish government spokeswoman said: “Ministers have acted appropriately at all times to exercise the responsibilities that the Inquiries Act 2005 and other relevant legislation places on them and continue to be committed to the independence of the inquiry.”

Established in October 2015, the inquiry is expected to report to ministers within four years, offering recommendations to improve the law, policies and practices in Scotland.




When home schooling serves as ruse for child abuse in Iowa

Iowa children Timothy Boss, 10, and Natalie Finn, 16, died, while Malayia Knapp, 18, is a survivor in cases where foster children were adopted to get state financial assistance but parents used home schooling as a ruse to avoid reports of abuse.

More than two million U.S. children are home schooled. Iowa had 10,732, last counted in 2012-13 before the Legislature eliminated virtually all oversight over their education, triggered by influential House Republicans who wouldn't otherwise support Gov. Terry Branstad's educational reform package.

Since 2000, according to the Coalition for Responsible Home Education, at least 320 home-schooled children in the U.S. have been severely neglected and abused, including 116 deaths. Eighty-eight were adopted.

While it's a small fraction of the home-schooled children, large Iowa loopholes allow some parents to try to get away with abuse.

Home schooling allows parents, guardians and custodians to educate their children, as well as independent private home-school instructors, who can teach up to four unrelated children. No license, high school diploma or known ability is required; neither is a criminal background check.

Nicole Proesch, Iowa Department of Education general counsel, told The Des Moines Register parents home schooling their children, but not through a school district, are automatically in compliance with compulsory attendance laws.

“If someone calls you out if your kid isn't enrolled this year, if the parent said, ‘I'm doing (independent private instruction) this year,' you could not file truancy on that child.”

Yet Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds' 2016 Future Ready Iowa Summit determined Iowa faces a major challenge with 8.3 percent of public school students chronically absent in 2015-16.

“In an increasingly knowledge-based economy, missing a lot of school puts students at a disadvantage that is difficult to overcome,” Branstad said.

The lack of oversight contributed, in part, to tragedies involving these home-schooled children adopted from foster care:

Timothy Boss, a special-needs child, was adopted by Lisa and Donald Boss Jr. of Remsen. School officials sought to do a year-end educational assessment in 1999-200 but were told he was living in Michigan with relatives.

The relatives never saw him. He was beaten to death and buried in the basement. The father got a life sentence for murder; the mother 50 years for attempted murder.

Natalie Finn of West Des Moines, adopted by Nicole and Joseph Finn, died from cardiac arrest in October as a result of severe malnutrition. She was enrolled in an alternative public school in 2014-15, but removed.

“Natalie was on a self-study course with her parents, and she did not need to report to school,” school officials, who suspected abuse, told state Sen. Matt McCoy, D-West Des Moines, the Register reported.

The Finns face multiple felony charges.

Malayia Knapp of Urbandale, the oldest of six home-schooled half-siblings adopted by Mindy and Arthur Knapp, escaped to call police. Among other forms of abuse, video cameras in the house showed Mindy Knapp handing the older children a belt to discipline a sibling and locking them up for hours. She was charged with two counts of assault causing bodily injury or mental illness. After pleading guilty to one count of simple assault, Polk County Judge Terry L. Wilson gave her a year's probation and deferred judgment.


New York

American ultra-Orthodox Are Starting to Talk About Sexual Abuse

As more alleged victims step forward, the Orthodox community grapples with the phenomenon while maintaining its insular traditions. Leading rabbis met in New York this week to broach this delicate issue.

by Debra Nussbaum Cohen

NEW YORK – The Orthodox Jewish community is slow to change, even – perhaps especially – on difficult issues like child sexual abuse. But speakers at a gathering of leading Orthodox rabbis and others made clear that significant changes are underway at both institutional and cultural levels. For example, a joint project of the Orthodox Union and Rabbinical Council of America to create training programs for synagogue staff, in an effort to help prevent sexual abuse, is getting started.

The very fact that Rabbi David Zwiebel, executive vice president of Agudath Israel of America, spoke at the meeting also reflected a shift. While the topic has been addressed at recent Agudah conventions, this was the first time that Zwiebel addressed it outside of his own community, he told Haaretz.

It is a challenging subject for a community that prizes modesty, deference to rabbinic authority and believes that turning in a Jew to secular authorities is a violation of Jewish law, especially if there is suspicion but not certainty of sexual abuse. Yet “if you compare the landscape to just a few years ago there have been enormous changes” in the Haredi community, Zwiebel told the opening session, in a conference room rented from UJA-Federation of New York in midtown Manhattan.

The “Global Summit on Child Sexual Abuse in the Jewish Community” was put together by Manny Waks and his organization Kol v'Oz. Waks, who was sexually molested as a child in Melbourne, Australia's Chabad community, started Kol v'Oz last year in Israel to deal with the issue.

The aim of the two-day gathering is to allow experts in childhood sexual abuse to network and share best practices, Waks told Haaretz. Ultimately, “the goal is a collaborative global coalition” to work on the issue. Two similar gatherings were convened in Israel in recent years, but this is believed to be the first time that such a meeting has brought together different segments of the Jewish community in the U.S.

The meeting included a hand-picked group of leaders of social service organizations that aid victims of sexual abuse, researchers and prominent rabbis from as near as Brooklyn and as far as Israel and Mexico. Also attending was the national director of the yeshiva day school movement Torah u'Mesorah, Rabbi Dovid Nojowitz.

“There has been marked change” in how the Orthodox community deals with sex abuse, said David Cheifetz, a victim of childhood molestation himself. Cheifetz, now a victims' advocate, moderated a discussion between Zwiebel and Rabbi Mark Dratch, executive vice president of the Rabbinical Council of America. “This issue has come to the forefront because more people are speaking out [after having been abused],” Cheifetz told Haaretz.

Enough victims are coming forward now that they have reached a critical mass and can no longer be dismissed by Orthodox leaders as troubled, marginal people, he said. And a recent wave of suicides and drug overdoses among Haredi young adults, along with a significant exodus of people out of religious observance are also shocking ultra-Orthodox leaders into taking seriously the relationship between those things and childhood sexual molestation.

Two years ago Zvi Gluck started “Amudim,” which provides counseling and other services to victims and families of those affected by sexual abuse, among others. “It represents a tangible effort by the Haredi community that these people need help, and can't just sha shtil [remain silent],” Gluck said at the meeting.

The fact that last Saturday night he trained a room full of Haredi rabbis how to deal with child sexual abuse shows that “a lot has changed.”

Still, said some at the meeting, the needs of victims still are not being taken seriously enough by Orthodox institutions.

Rabbi Yosef Blau, the spiritual guide to rabbinical students at Yeshiva University and a widely respected authority on this issue in the Orthodox community, was one. “Frankly, I haven't seen as much pragmatic progress as theoretical progress,” he said. “Is there willingness of leadership in the Orthodox community to follow through, to give support to that child [who is a victim of sexual abuse],” he asked. “Are the Agudah and the RCA ready to go into the community and say publicly ‘we back this person going to the police?'”

Several developments have coalesced to push Orthodox organizations forward, say experts. Social media has had much to do with spreading information about abusers and connecting victims. The Catholic Church sexual abuse crisis burst onto the American scene in the early 2000s, as did several high-profile cases in the Orthodox community, beginning with that of Baruch Lanner, who then worked as director of regions for the modern Orthodox youth movement NCSY.

Emotions ran high, particularly during discussion of the Statute of Limitations. In New York State, which is home to the overwhelming majority of American Haredim, the law is that a victim must initiate a case against an alleged perpetrator within five years after his 18th birthday. Experts say that foreclosing the possibility of civil or criminal prosecution when a victim is only in his early 20s is unrealistic, because it often takes most many more years before they are ready to openly discuss their abuse.

The Agudah, with the Catholic Church, have to date blocked change to the law.

A bill introduced in various forms in the New York State Assembly for more than a decade would eliminate the civil Statute of Limitations, meaning a victim could sue his abuser for monetary damages in a civil court at any time. That bill would also open a year-long window during which older victims could retroactively sue those responsible.

That is what the Agudah opposes, Zwiebel said, though it supports extending the criminal Statute of Limitations indefinitely and raising the victim's age for the civil lawsuit limit. Jewish law has no Statute of Limitations in criminal cases, pointed out YU's Blau.

Zwiebel said, of the Agudah's resistance to a change in the law, “schools are the crown jewels of our community. For them to have retrospective liability for things done decades ago under a different administration would cause damage to those jewels,” by potentially bankrupting them.

Waks responded, in a voice full with emotion, “it often comes across in the Haredi world that they care much more about the institutions than the victims. Are they really much more precious than children's lives?”

Barry Singer was also in the room. The Manhattan bookseller was one of 34 plaintiffs who in 2013 sued Yeshiva University for the sexual abuse they said they suffered while students in YU-run high schools. The lawsuit was dismissed because none of the men had filed it while within the Statute of Limitations period. During the hearings and appeals, “we were treated very badly by YU,” said Singer, though the university did not challenge the veracity of any of the plaintiffs' allegations.

Addressing Zwiebel and Dratch, he said: “You say, much to my dismay, that the institution is more important than the child … Do you really think you can move forward without finding some way to address those of us still living in the nightmares that began in high school?”

When Cheifetz was a 13-year-old camper at an Orthodox overnight camp in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains, a 28-year-old staff member plied him with beer and then tongue-kissed and sexually fondled him. Cheifetz confided in a bunkmate, who told camp officials. They called Cheifetz to the office and forced him to confront the staff member. Then they packed him onto a Greyhound Bus back to New York City, telling his parents to pick him up at Port Authority.

It is difficult today to imagine such allegations being handled the same way, though social repercussions like being kicked out of yeshiva or being unable to make marriage matches for adult children continue to dissuade members of Orthodox, especially Haredi, communities from openly pursuing claims of sexual abuse.

“Progress is incremental,” Cheifetz, now 51, told Haaretz. “It is slow. But it's real.”



Parents accused of neglect in child's death miss court date

Prosecutor says Sarah and Tim Johnson moved to New Zealand, and arrest warrants have been issued.

by Brandon Stahl

A Hennepin County judge issued arrest warrants Tuesday for a couple charged with failing to seek medical care for their gravely ill 7-year-old son before he died on a vomit-stained mattress in their Plymouth home.

Timothy D. Johnson, 39, and Sarah N. Johnson, 38, failed to show at their first court appearance Tuesday, one month after they were charged in Hennepin County District Court with gross misdemeanor child neglect in connection with the March 30, 2015, death of son Seth Johnson. The boy endured extensive trauma from an inflamed pancreas and possible infections until he died, according to the criminal complaints.

The Johnsons, who were not arrested when charged, were required to appear in court, but Assistant Hennepin County Attorney John Halla told Judge Gina Brandt that the two have moved to New Zealand.

Halla requested a new court date “in order to attempt international service on Mr. Johnson and his wife.”

Brandt issued arrest warrants for the Johnsons but delayed executing them until Wednesday, when the court could receive more information from another prosecutor on attempts to reach the couple. Once the warrants are in effect, the Johnsons could be arrested and extradited to the United States.

Failed to seek help

Despite a yearlong review of evidence and consultations with a child abuse pediatrician, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said last month that Seth's illness and death could not be linked to the actions or inactions of the Johnsons. As a result, the Johnsons were charged with the most serious crime the law allows, he said.

According to the criminal complaint, Seth, who first joined the Johnson family through foster care and later was adopted, was severely underdeveloped physically and had numerous scrapes and bruises on his body at the time of his death.

In the weeks leading up to Seth's death, his parents said he stopped sleeping, would shake on occasion and developed blisters and other marks on his legs, along with lesions on his heels, which suggest a lack of mobility.

Neither parent offered law enforcement an explanation other than to say the boy was always hurting himself. They said he would throw himself down the stairs and hit his head.

They said they didn't want Seth on any medication and relied on their own research. They concluded Seth was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and from a traumatic brain injury. The Johnsons said Seth was a victim of fetal alcohol syndrome, but authorities found no record of such a diagnosis.

Despite Seth's mounting difficulties, they never sought medical attention for him. “They had ‘issues with going to doctors,'?” the charging documents quoted the Johnsons as conveying.

On the weekend before Seth's death, the boy was being watched by his 16-year-old brother while Sarah and Tim Johnson left town for a wedding. The teen called the parents on March 29, a Sunday, and said Seth wasn't eating or interacting. While under the teen's care that weekend, Seth stopped talking and couldn't get out of bed.

When the couple arrived home that Sunday night, Seth was on the floor and unresponsive. “They prayed for his health” at that moment, the complaint read.

They said they contemplated seeking medical care for Seth but decided to wait until morning to decide.

The next morning, Tim Johnson found Seth unresponsive on the mattress and covered in vomit. They cleaned him off and began CPR. Then they called 911.

Soon after Seth's death, the Johnsons went online, writing about how faith got them through their overwhelming grief. They also started a fundraising page that featured a photo of Seth, their “very quiet and hurting little boy.”

They wrote that their “bright and beautiful boy died unexpectedly.”

The Johnsons listed six surviving siblings while seeking $7,000 for funeral expenses and to help the family while Tim Johnson took a leave from work. Donations topped the goal by several hundred dollars.


United Kingdom

Public urged to report suspicions of child neglect

by Lottie Welch

LOCAL safeguarding children boards, local authorities, NHS and police across Dorset are asking the public to be curious about the signs of neglect to help keep children safe.

Child neglect is the most frequent form of child abuse and is the most common reason for taking child protection action.

Neglect is the ongoing failure to meet a child's basic needs, including food, clothing and shelter; a safe place to live; love, care and attention; education, health or dental care.

Currently, more than 50 per cent of child protection plans – made up by the local authority on how the child can be kept safe – across Dorset, Bournemouth and Poole are as a result of child neglect.

The number of children affected by neglect is far greater than those currently on child protection plans.

Neglect issues may not always reach the threshold levels required for services to take child protection action, but instead in these cases, children's social care and other agencies will work proactively with families to provide support and advice to address some types of neglect before they become more serious.

Sarah Elliott, chair of both the Dorset and Bournemouth & Poole safeguarding children boards, said: “Child neglect can be hidden within families and communities meaning that it doesn't come to the attention of agencies, who are well placed to provide specialist help.

“That is why we need the people of Dorset to also be our eyes and ears, to help spot the signs of neglect, so that timely support can be put in place for children and their families.

“Do not think ‘it is none of my business', if you have concerns – be curious and ask yourself; does a child's behaviour, appearance or living situation worry you?'

“If it does, then tell someone. It might make the difference between a child being safe or at risk of harm.”

Professionals who work with children and other members of the public are being asked to act against child neglect if they spot the signs and report concerns so that support plans can be put in place before problems escalate.

Neglected children and young people may: be left hungry or dirty; be left without adequate clothing; be living in dangerous conditions; be living in a home that is indisputably dirty or unsafe; be withdrawn or often angry, aggressive or self-harm; fail to receive basic health or dental care and fail to receive medical treatment when ill or injured.

Ms Elliott added: “Your concerns may seem small but you could have noticed something that someone else has missed, which could be part of the bigger picture to help keep a child or young person safe.

“With neglect cases, often it is a build-up of little pieces of information from a teacher, doctor, the next-door neighbour, or others, which combined lead to helping protect a child from neglect.

“There can be a number of reasons why families may be struggling to adequately care and provide for their children.

“Reporting your concerns does not mean a family will have their children taken away. It is always our aim to keep families together with support in place.

“When a report is made, social workers and others in children's social services work with the family and other agencies to make sure a child or young person is safe and their needs are met.

“If you suspect a child is experiencing any form of neglect it is important you tell someone. Talk to someone who works with the child or young person such as a teacher, support worker or medical professional, or contact your local children's social care services.”

Julie Campbell, NSPCC local campaigns manager in the South West, said: “Being a parent isn't always easy and parents struggle from time to time.

“Many parents don't realise there is help out there is help out there, and we would encourage them to seek help before things get out of hand and children are put at risk.

“Where there are concerns about a child's safety or wellbeing, most people find the decision to report these concerns a difficult one. They worry about overreacting or being wrong, and may question whether they have strong enough evidence, or if they have misread the signs of abuse or misunderstood a situation.

“They may also be concerned about the personal repercussions if they know the family involved.

“Some people don't report suspected neglect because they think it might just be a one off. But even if that is the case, every child deserves to be protected – it is better to be safe than sorry. It may be nothing but it could be something.”

Concerns can be reported to Dorset children's social care on 01202 228866, the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000, by visiting or through Dorset Police by calling 101 or at


New York

From ICE

Human trafficking fugitive on ICE's top 10 list extradited to US from Mexico

NEW YORK — One of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) 10 most wanted human trafficking fugitives was extradited Friday to face criminal charges for sex trafficking. This is subsequent to an initial arrest Sept. 2016 in Mexico, following a joint investigation between ICE's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Mexico City, HSI New York and the Mexican Federal Police.

Raul Granados-Rendon, 30, was extradited to the United States on Jan. 27 and was arraigned Saturday at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn. Granados-Rendon faces a 21-count indictment charging him with racketeering and racketeering conspiracy involving predicate acts of sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion; sex trafficking of minors; interstate prostitution; alien smuggling and related offenses.

“We at HSI can think of no better way to end Human Trafficking Awareness month, than with the extradition of Raul Granados-Rendon who has been on our most wanted list for numerous crimes including sex trafficking,” said special agent in charge Melendez of HSI New York. “This individual is just one of many who helped run a sex trafficking organization that was responsible for smuggling numerous women into the United States where they were forced to work as prostitutes against their will. We will not rest until all of these individuals face the justice they deserve.”

“This extradition, the latest chapter in our multi-year case against the Granados sex trafficking organization, again demonstrates our resolve to seek justice for victims of modern day slavery. We will not rest until those who seek to profit from the forced slavery of others are brought to justice,” stated Robert L Capers, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

As set forth in extradition affidavits and other court papers, between October 1998 and June 2011, members of the Granados sex trafficking organization, including Raul Granados-Rendon and others, illegally smuggled young women into the United States where they were forced to work as prostitutes in New York City and elsewhere in the United States. The organization collected profits from the victims' activities. When victims refused to work or resisted members of the organization beat and sexually assaulted them, and threatened the victims' family members in Mexico, including the victims' children.

HSI special agents have identified and rescued over 20 additional victims, all Mexican nationals, and arrested over a dozen additional traffickers or smugglers, all members or associates of the Granados family. Several victims were sexually assaulted by their traffickers, while others were physically assaulted. All the victims said the traffickers threatened to harm their family members.

To date, 13 members of the Granados organization have been indicted in the Eastern District of New York (EDNY) on sex trafficking charges. Raul Granados-Rendon was the last fugitive to be arrested and extradited to face the charges.

Since 2009, the Department of Justice and HSI have collaborated with Mexican law enforcement counterparts in a Bilateral Human Trafficking Enforcement Initiative aimed at strengthening high-impact prosecutions under both U.S. and Mexican law. The initiative is aimed at dismantling human trafficking networks operating across the U.S.-Mexico border, bringing human traffickers to justice, reuniting victims with their children and restoring the rights and dignity of human trafficking victims held under the trafficking networks' control. These efforts have resulted in successful prosecutions in both Mexico and the United States, including U.S. federal prosecutions of more than 50 defendants in multiple cases in New York, Georgia, Florida, and Texas since 2009, and numerous Mexican federal and state prosecutions of associated sex traffickers. The extraditions in this case are the latest development in the EDNY's comprehensive anti-trafficking program, which has to date indicted more than 70 defendants in sex trafficking cases and provided assistance to more than 135 victims, including 39 minors. In addition, through the EDNY's anti-trafficking program, 18 children have been reunited with their victim-mothers.

The charges in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. This case is being prosecuted by EDNY's Civil Rights section.



Bill would create child abuse and neglect commission

by Phil Drake

HELENA — A state panel reviewed a bill Monday that would create a Child Abuse and Neglect Review Commission to look at trends in child abuse cases, educate the public, recommend policies and report its findings prior to each legislative session.

House Bill 303, introduced by Rep. Kathy Kelker, D-Billings, will create a 17-member commission. Kelker told members of the House Judiciary Committee that Montana fielded 35,000 calls regarding child abuse last year, noting that was about 100 calls a day.

The commission would be done under a memorandum of understanding between the Department of Public Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice. A fiscal note estimating its cost was not ready by Monday's meeting.

Kelker said no similar commission now exists in Montana.

“This bill matters,” she said, and then told committee members of a time when she was a Head Start director in Billings and saw a 4-year-old girl eating sand. The child had been abused and said eating sand made her sick and if she at enough of it she would die.

“I must admit, it still haunts me,” Kelker said, who said she can still see the child's small face.

In 2015, a similar bill was defeated.

“This year the Montana Legislature should step up, do the right thing and get this commission working,” Kelker said.

She said such a commission was a top recommendation by the governor's Protect Montana Kids Commission, which was to look at reforms to the state's child protection system.

According to HB 303, the attorney general would appoint eight members to the commission and the governor would select nine. They would consist of a child and family ombudsman; someone from the state crime laboratory; law enforcement; the judiciary; an attorney who litigates in the area of child abuse and neglect, including an attorney who represents children and court-appointed special advocates; a licensed foster parent; an adult parent who was a victim of child abuse and neglect and a member of the Legislature.

Others to be appointed include a representative of the child and family services division of the department of public health and human services; someone from private organizations involved in matters related to child abuse and neglect; a medical provider who is involved in matters related to child abuse and neglect; a mental health provider with experience in treating co-occurring disorders; a representative of the Montana Indian tribes; the state fetal, infant, child and maternal mortality review coordinator; a licensed provider who serves children with disabilities; a representative of an organization that works with homeless children and youth; and a representative of the University of Montana school of social work.

None of the members, outside of being a state employee, would be compensated for participating.

The state's first-ever review looked at the deaths of 14 children between July 1, 2015, and Nov. 8, 2016, who had been the subject of a report to Child and Family Services within a year before they died. However, the Child and Family Services Ombudsman's office did not have access to medical, law enforcement and service group information, leaving it unable to determine the cause of death in some cases.

The report did give a list of red flags, where the presence of two or more should lead the state to give more credence to a report of child abuse or neglect. They include drug and alcohol abuse, a prior history with the agency, domestic violence and housing or other financial instability. The report also recommended more cooperation between the agency and the courts, law enforcement and physicians.

Sarah Corbally, who once headed up the state department of Child and Family Services, spoke in support of the bill as a lobbyist for Healthy Mothers and Healthy Babies.

She said the makeup of the commission was set up in a way that lets all the facts be presented without shame or blame. The commission can gather all the facts and come up with proactive solutions.

No one spoke against the proposal during the hearing.

“This bill feels different to me,” said Rep. Nate McConnell, D-Missoula.

Rep. Virginia Court, D-Billings agreed.

“This is a great bill,” she said.

The bill is expected to come back before the committee soon for a vote.



Chesco child-abuse reports continue upsurge

by ChaddsFord Live

Child-abuse reports are continuing an upsurge in Chester County that dates back to 2015, said Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan.

“With the change in Pennsylvania laws regarding mandatory reporting of child abuse after the [Jerry] Sandusky case, we expected to see an increase in child- abuse reports,” Hogan said in a press release. “This spike mirrors increases across the Commonwealth. More cases are being reported, and the District Attorney's Child Abuse Unit has grown in size and sophistication in order to address the new caseload.”

The District Attorney's Child Abuse Unit receives reports from multiple agencies, including the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare and the Chester County Department of Children, Youth and Families. The yearly total of child-abuse reports in Chester County hit 219 in 2012, 291 in 2013, 414 in 2014, 1,306 in 2015, and 1,681 in 2016 – an eightfold increase over five years, the release said.

The increase has produced a greater workload for the Child Abuse Unit and the local police departments. When a report of serious child abuse occurs, the child victims are typically interviewed at the Children's Advocacy Center in the District Attorney's Office, a safe location specifically designed to be kid-friendly. Forensic interviewers, detectives who are specially trained to deal with children, conduct the interviews.

The number of forensic interviews of children conducted in Chester County also increased significantly, from 233 in 2014 to 358 in 2016, according to the release.

To address the additional work, the District Attorney's Office has added staff. In 2013, two prosecutors and two detectives (one investigator and one supervisor) were assigned to the DA's Child Abuse Unit. As of 2017, the Child Abuse Unit has four prosecutors and four detectives (three investigators and one supervisor) assigned, effectively doubling in size. The Chester County Commissioners previously authorized hiring an extra detective specifically to address child-abuse cases, the release said.

“As the District Attorney has noted, we expected to see an increase in reports of child abuse because of the change in state laws, but those expectations don't make it any easier when we see the actual numbers,” Michelle Kichline, chair of the Chester County Commissioners, said in the release. “One of the main priorities of the Board of Commissioners is public safety, especially the safety of our children. I thank the DA and his staff for prioritizing their resources and doing everything that they can to protect the children during the grueling and emotional – but necessary – process of investigation and prosecution.”

The rise in the number of reports also has led to a rise in the number of child-abuse prosecutions, complex cases that are always traumatic for the child victims, who are forced to re-live their abuse in court.

Hogan said that in talking to colleagues around Pennsylvania, who already are overwhelmed by the heroin and opioid epidemic, he realized that Chester County is fortunate to have leaders and resources committed to addressing the problem.

“Even one child being hurt is one too many, and no child predator should be allowed to roam the streets,” he said in the release.



Social Worker Charged With Fatal Child Abuse Cover-Up


LOS ANGELES ( The short and tortured life of 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez is told through the eyes of his first-grade teacher Jennifer Garcia.

“He asked is it normal to bleed when you're hit and I said ‘no,' ” Garcia said.

Garcia testified she noticed bruises on Gabriel's face, chunks of hair missing and scabs on his scalp seven months before his death in 2013. She says she reported the suspected abuse and soon received a call from social worker Stefanie Rodriguez.

“I told her about the belt and not wanting to go home,” Garcia said.

Garcia testified Rodriguez told her she would investigate the allegations. Now Rodriguez is one of four social workers charged with child abuse and falsifying records in Gabriel's case.

Prosecutors say the defendants minimized his injuries and allowed Gabriel to stay at home with his mother while the abuse escalated.

Gabriel's mother and her boyfriend are charged with his murder. According to the autopsy, the 8-year-old had a cracked skull, broken ribs, burns, bruises, and BB pellets embedded in his lung and groin.

Garcia testified in January of 2013 that Gabriel came to school with a swollen face and tiny bruises all over his face. She asked him what happened.

“He said: ‘My mom shot me in the face with a BB gun.' ”

Garcia testified she reported the abuse over and over, voicemails to Rodriguez went unanswered and Gabriel was allowed to stay with his mother. The first-grade teacher also testified that every time his home was visited by a social worker, the abuse got worse.

Three months after telling his teacher about being shot with the BB gun, Gabriel Fernandez was dead.



Men Dressed Up as Animals Sexually Abused Boy During 'Furry Parties' in Bucks County: Officials

The victim told police he was repeatedly sexually abused by a man dressed up as an animal during "furry parties" in Bucks County.

by David Chang

Police arrested a group of men accused of repeatedly sexually abusing a boy while dressed up as "furries" in Bucks County.

Kenneth Fenske, 57, of Quakertown, Bucks County; David Parker, 38, of Stroudsburg, Monroe County; Jeffrey Harvey, 40, of West Wyoming, Luzerne County; Craig Knox and Stephen Taylor were all arrested in connection with the case.

Investigators say the abuse began in 2009 when Parker began taking a 9-year-old boy to a Bucks County home where a group of men dressed up as animals and referred to themselves as "furries."

Furry fandom is a subculture in which people dress up in animal costumes and identify as a chosen animal. It mostly consists of visual art, conventions, games, toys and online communities, though in rare cases it also involves a sexual fetish.

The boy told investigators that a man dressed up as a Red Fox who called himself "Lupine," would take him upstairs during the parties and sexually abuse him. The boy said the abuse occurred several times over a seven-year period. The boy identified "Lupine" as Kenneth Fenske.

Fenske was arrested Friday and charged with child rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and unlawful contact with a minor. He was arraigned and was held on $750,000 bail. Online court records don't list an attorney for him.

Parker, Harvey, Knox and Taylor were arrested as well, on a variety of charges.

Parker is charged with child rape, possession of child pornography and other related offenses. Harvey is charged with unlawful contact with a minor, criminal use of a cell phone, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and statutory sexual assault. Knox, who was arrested in Virginia, is charged with sexual offenses. Taylor was also arrested in Virginia for bestiality and other related offenses, investigators said.

Officials say the victim is currently in foster care and receiving therapy. They also say the victim is related to one of the suspects, according to court documents, though they would not go into further detail in order to protect the boy's identity.

"This is a horrendous case," Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said. "It is deeply disturbing to me not only as Attorney General of Pennsylvania, but as a father of young children. We care about this victim and all victims of sexual abuse."

Shapiro said the investigation is ongoing and there will likely be more arrests.

"We believe it is likely there could be more victims out there from this ring of abuse," Shapiro said. "We want to help them and protect them from any further abuse. We're seeking the public's help today and asking people to come forward and speak with our Office or the Bucks DA's Office if they know anything."

If you have any information on the case, please call 1-800-385-1044. You can also give an anonymous tip on the Attorney General website.



Pa. Senate reopens child sex abuse debate; deadlines to bring cases against abusers extended in new bill

by Charles Thompson

The state Senate reopened debate Monday on the thorny issue of ensuring wider paths to justice for victims of child sexual abuse.

Judiciary Committee members voted without opposition to move a bill to the Senate floor that would give future abuse victims longer windows to bring lawsuits or criminal prosecution against their tormentors.

But it does not include any changes for those adults for whom statute of limitations have already run, a demand insisted on by many advocates for abuse victims that was included in House-passed versions of the bill last year.

Action on any reforms stalled on that issue in 2016.

Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson County and prime sponsor of Senate Bill 261, said he wanted to move quickly to bring the issue back up now because he believes there are good changes in his bill that should be enacted, separate of the retroactivity issue.

"I think it's an important issue that got left kind of at the altar at the end of last session," Scarnati said. "But this bill does a lot of good for victims going forward."

It would, for example, lift all time bars on criminal prosecutions for future acts of child sexual abuse, as well as civil lawsuits brought against the abusers or anyone who knew of the abuse and failed to act on it.

At present, those criminal counts must be brought by ago 50, and civil suit must be filed by the time a child victim hits age 30.

Child victims would also have until age 50 to bring a civil negligence claims against a school district or church entity that they believe contributed to the abuse through negligence.

Scarnati said he hopes the bill gets a vote on the Senate floor as early as Wednesday. But he also acknowledged that at this early stage in the new legislative session, there have been no talks with House leaders on the issue.

What quick Senate action will do, however, is give members in the two chambers a full two years to try to resolve differences that could not be bridged in the last few months of the 2015-16 legislative term.

The time may be needed.

Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-Berks County and the floor leader for child sex abuse reforms in the House, reiterated Monday he will not accept any bill that does not open a fresh window for past abuse victims to bring civil suits.

Noting the changes proposed by Scarnati only apply to sexual abuses committed after the new law's enactment, Rozzi said that, while well-intended, "they really won't help anybody for another thirty years. We need to do so much more."

Rozzi said he will be refiling his own bill, with a two-year window for older abuse victims to bring lawsuits, later this week.

Scarnati, and to this point a majority of his colleagues in the Senate, has argued that because statute of limitations apply equally to plaintiffs, prosecutors and victims, such retroactive changes violate a person's rights to defend themselves in court.

"For me it's about constitutionality," Scarnati said about the retroactivity issue after Monday's vote. "It's not that I don't stand with victims. I just stand with the constitution. I detest what these victims suffered or allegedly suffered."

The pitched battle over a retroactive window pits lobbyists for church organizations, schools and those that insure them against victim advocates and some prosecutors who argued the issue should at least be tested in courts.



Special report: Lack of sexual assault units adding to crisis for victims

by Cormac O'Keefe

Doubly traumatised: that's what happens to families when they learn a child of theirs has been sexually assaulted.

There's the trauma from the horror of the abuse, and there's the trauma of trying to find proper care for their child.

“No one knows what to do until they are in it,” said Eve Farrelly of Cari, a voluntary child therapy organisation.

“The parent finds out what happened to their child. They are in a world of trying to deal with child sexual abuse. They are just catapulted into a world of shock and fear and anger and rage.

“Then they have to negotiate an unknown terrain — the ad hoc services no one knows about and trying to gain access to them. It adds immensely to the trauma.”

Ms Farrelly said: “Families who find this horror on their doorstep can feel very isolated, but they also have an awful lot of questions and worries. Who do they speak to, if they are not linked in with people who have that information and approach?”

She said accessing treatment as soon as possible is crucial to recovery: “This should be the beginning of the healing process, with the forensic examination. It should be beginning the healing journey. It should not be adding trauma.”

As it stands, there is only one dedicated sexual assault treatment unit for children in the country, compared to six adult units.

The Child and Adolescent Sexual Assault Treatment Services (CASATS) is based in Galway, the brainchild of local paediatricians and nurses. “Dr Joanne Nelson led the way,” said Mary Flaherty, chief executive of Cari. “She's a remarkable woman, a trailblazer. She came down from the North, saw the service for children here compared to there and began it in an informal way.”

The HSE began funding it in 2011 and attendances by children grew from 53 in that year to 78 the following year, dropping to 61 in 2013 and 64 in 2014, before increasing to 73 in 2015.

It takes children of all ages under the age of 16. The service is supposed to cater for the west and mid-west region.

In its annual report for 2015, CASATS said it provided a detailed medical and forensic examination service in a “child-friendly environment” and that “every effort is taken to ensure the child's comfort”.

The various examinations can be stopped at any time if the child is distressed and, in most cases, the child can be reassured, it said.

“Feedback suggests children and adolescents often find forensic examinations therapeutic.”

It said that, since 2014, Cari has provided a 24-hour crisis support worker to the service and said they were a “tremendous asset”.

Ms Farrelly is co-ordinator of Cari's Child Accompaniment Support Service and praised the work of the CASATS.

The CASATS report is contained within the National SATU Annual Key Service Activity Report 2015. It shows that 30% of the children attending it are from Galway.

“That figure for Galway speaks volumes,” said Ms Farrelly. “It shows that when a service is available people will use it. It's not that child sexual assault is a particular problem in Galway. The necessity of the service is equally present in other parts of the country.”

The CASATS figures show that children from nine other counties attend the 24-hour facility.

“We have children travelling from Donegal to Galway,” said Ms Farrelly. “It can be a five-hour car journey. Then you have two hours at the unit and five hours back home.

“Remember that the children are typically five or six years old.”

The CASATS report reveals just how young the children can be: Three are aged one; six aged two; seven aged three, and 11 aged four (the highest number for any age). The average age is around seven.

“The kids going to [CASATS] are the lucky ones,” said Ms Farrelly. “They are linked in safely and appropriately into a caring, supportive, informative, non-judgmental place. All their needs are there and it sets them on the correct road: the road to healing.”

But she added: “Where are the kids not captured in CASATS?”

Only children above the age of 14 are treated in the adult sexual assault treatment units, but, apart from a new programme that has just started in the Rotunda, Cari does not provide an accompaniment service for those aged 14 and 15 in the units (Dublin Rape Crisis Centre accompanies those aged over 16, while rape crisis centres outside Dublin accompany those aged over 14).

Ms Farrelly said there was no handle on where children under the age of 14 were going, and how many did so. These children were taken by their parents to casualty wards or their GPs for help.

“It's an ad hoc service,” said Ms Farrelly. “It keeps us in a dark place regarding statistics. We have no way of knowing what is going on.”

She said: “I think for families, that is unacceptable. Their child is not having the same service as adults, a service they need. The adult service is so much better. I don't know why.”

Ms Flaherty said: “We are playing catch-up all the time. We know children have different therapeutic services to adults, the same is the case with forensic services.”

Both Ms Farrelly and Ms Flaherty welcome plans to set up a dedicated 24-hour service in the new national children's hospital.

In a statement, the Children's Hospital Group told the Irish Examiner that a forensic medical examination service will be set up in the Dublin hospital when it opens in 2021.

It said the specialist facility will take patients from the “eastern region”.

It said it will be led by general paediatricians and advanced nurse practitioners and nursing staff.

The statement said that an advanced nurse practitioner was appointed by the end of last year and that she was expected to commence her role early this year.

“The CHG is working with the HSE to develop this service through the annual service planning process.”

The statement said that an outpatient child sexual abuse counselling and therapy service was available at Crumlin Children's Hospital, Temple Street Hospital, and Tallaght Hospital (9pm-5pm, Monday to Friday).

It said this facility will move to two new paediatric out-patient department and urgent care centres at Connolly Hospital and Tallaght Hospital.

“These facilities are expected to open on a phased basis from 2018,” read the statement.

Ms Flaherty said that even when the new national children's hospital service opens, there will still be many parts of the country not covered.

She said there had been talk of a service in Cork or Waterford, but did not know where that was at.

“We want child therapeutic services at least at the same level as adults,” she said.

“We are not fixed on a number of units, but there should be a reasonable geographic spread.

“We need an analysis of data, which we don't have, and we need to look at best international practice.”

She added: “It should be an adequate level. We might not need six of them, but we certainly need more more than one and a bit and the one planned. The needs are enormous.”

‘Units are here to help when crisis strikes'

“These are the type of services that no one wants to access,” explained Dr Maeve Eogan.

She is the medical director of National Sexual Assault Treatment Unit (SATU) Services and consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at the Rotunda Hospital, where the Dublin SATU is located.

“It is important the units exist and are located around the country. It means that people from all over Ireland, over the age of 14, can access the same standard of care.”

SATUs are mainly used in crisis situations, in the wake of a sexual attack, and, in most cases, though not all, the victim is brought there by gardaí.

From a medical point of view, the units take forensic samples for possible garda prosecutions as well as emergency contraception and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, if necessary.

A development last year was that SATUs could securely store forensic samples, if a patient, at a later date, wanted to report the crime to gardaí.

Medical care is also provided for other physical injuries that might have been inflicted. Figures show that happens in over a third of all cases nationally and almost half of cases at some of the country's six units.

SATUs provide an “integrated service”. In addition to medical care, psychological and emotional support is provided as well as linkage with the justice system through the gardaí.

“We provide emergency contraception, if necessary, treatment for STIs, and care, either physical or psychological trauma that the patient may be suffering, and we take care of forensic evidence that we can give to An Garda Síochána and assist in the detection of crime,” said Dr Eogan.

She compiled the SATU Annual Key Service Activity Report 2015, which includes reports from the six SATUs, information from which are analysed and detailed in today's Irish Examiner.

Dr Eogan said the rape crisis centres provide an “essential service” in psychological and emotional support.

“Every attendee at a SATU is offered psychological service from the local rape crisis centre, who are absolutely wonderful, and are all volunteers,” she said.

Dr Eogan is happy with the level of service provided by the six SATUs.

“The current level of service is very good, it's appropriate to what patients need,” she said, adding that patients may have to travel to their nearest unit.

“It can be difficult to travel from Drogheda to Dublin, but it is better to travel and receive the appropriate level of care, by trained and experienced staff, rather than receive care from someone who isn't,” she said.

“We provide an integrated service, involving gardaí, GPs, psychological support, forensic examiners, and nursing staff.”

She said the standout problem in the whole area is the service available for children under the age of 14, apart from the sole dedicated facility in the state, located in Galway.

“If you are 23, and had sexual violence visited upon you, you would have access to services very quickly, regardless of where you lived,” she said.

“But, if you are a child, the parent or the garda may have to make up to nine phone calls, they may have to hunt up and down for someone to take care of their child in an acute sense.”

She said this isn't because the medical professionals don't want to help.

“There aren't designated facilities. It often depends on the goodwill or grace and favour of a professional fitting a child in at the end of the clinic. They are trained to do it, but they are not facilitated infrastructurally. They do not have the required resources in terms of staff or support.”

She added: “Here and there, there are pockets of very good care, and an excellent service in Galway, but there are areas of the country, including Dublin, where people face a serious challenge.”

She said that late last year, a system was put in place whereby Cari, the voluntary therapeutic organisation for children, accompanies children aged 14 and 15 to the adult SATU in the Rotunda. Those aged 16 and over are accompanied by the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre.

She said the Cari accompaniment service was “still in its infancy” as it was only in its first few months.

She said the issue of facilities for children was not within her remit, as it falls outside the SATU services, but she said she supported her paediatric colleagues advocating for such services.

She said the work within SATUs is very difficult because of what they are facing.

“A key part is that we provide peer-to-peer and emotional support to each other so we don't suffer vicarious trauma, in order to look after the team, so the team can look after the patients. None of us is immune to some of the stories you can hear.”

She said they often have to deal with situations where the patient doesn't know what has happened.

“It's very traumatic for patients,” she said. “We do have patients who wake up in a strange location, with a person they are not expecting, their clothes are in disarray, and they are uncertain what happened.”

She said that not every victim of sexual violence has a physical injury and that there are no conclusive tests that can say if vaginal penetration has happened or not.

“Some find it hard, they are not sure what to recover from,” said Dr Eogan.

“If you can remember, at least you can work through those moments and try to gain closure in the weeks, months, and years ahead. If you can't remember, the healing can be difficult.”

She said that, frequently, patients' inability to remember what happened is associated with alcohol intake.

“Alcohol is probably the biggest date rape drug in the country,” she said.

“Just because there may be an association with alcohol, that does not mean alcohol caused it. But alcohol makes you vulnerable.”

She admitted that raising the issue of alcohol is a sensitive matter.

“Because of fears we had of implying patients were some way culpable, for up to 10 years of our service we were less likely to comment on the association of alcohol and patients who attend. We were concerned that by highlighting that link you are in some way implying culpability. That's not the message.”

She said victims can sometimes blame themselves.

“Of all crimes, sexual crime seems to bring so much blame, so much shame, so much fear of judgment,” Dr Eogan said.

“No person in this world deserves to be raped or a victim of sexual crime. It's really important to try and debunk self-blame of victims of sexual violence.

“It's the perpetrators of sexual violence that should be held to account.”

Why a few minutes' talking is crucial in helping victims lift the self-blame

Reassuring people who have just been sexually assaulted that it's “not their fault” is often part of what rape crisis volunteers have to do, said Mary Crilly, director of the Cork Sexual Violence Centre.

The centre provides an accompaniment service at the sexual assault treatment unit in the South Infirmary Hospital, in situations where the person would like their assistance.

“We have to be introduced, they [the staff] see if the person wants to talk to us,” said Ms Crilly.

“Our volunteer could be there 10-15 minutes max. The person has to undergo medical examinations and the last thing they want is a long conversation and loads of questions.

“But we tell them, ‘We are here for you'. They will know where to go to. They don't have to start looking around for us.”

She said that initial contact can make a huge difference: “If we can come over to them and reassure them it is not their fault, that's great.

“Whether it's a 14-year-old girl or women aged 70, what goes through all of them is, it was their fault — they knew the guy, they said something or did something.

“If you can get through to them in those few minutes that it is not their fault, that's important.”

She said society allows victims of sexual assault to take the blame. “We reassure them that's not the case.”

Ms Crilly said there are situations, often involving a teenager or young woman where the parents are present at the SATU.

“There could be a family member, say of a young person. Maybe the young person doesn't want to talk. The parents are in shock. This is their worst nightmare, this happening to their own daughter or son. They don't know where to go.

“For parents, there is so much shock and hurt and even anger. They might be blaming their daughter for the situation. There are a lot of mixed emotions.”

She said: “They might want to go back to normal, but what has happened to them is not normal. They need help.”

She said that many follow up offers of help with the centre, but that it can take time.

“It could have happened last February and they are only coming in to us now.”

She said that, in her experience, around 80% of victims know their attacker and said that only one in four victims go to a SATU.

Ms Crilly noted a figure from the SATU Annual Key Service Activity Report 2015, which recorded a higher than average percentage of patients in the Cork SATU reporting drinking more than four units of alcohol in the 12 hours before the attack.

Alcohol is an issue as it makes people “more vulnerable”, she said.

“Girls are out for the night and don't think it will happen to them, that it happens to other people. They might also expect [a possible attacker] would be someone they don't know, but it could be the guy around the table who is controlling and manipulative.”

She stressed that pointing out that alcohol can make you vulnerable should not be conflated with apportioning blame on a girl because of her drinking.

“The attitude is, if a girl's drunk, she's responsible, but if a boy's drunk, he's not. The attitude is it's their own fault.”

She said three out of four victims won't report to SATU, in many cases because they had been drinking. “The attitude that it's the girl's own fault gives a minority of men the unconscious green light,” said Ms Crilly. “They think that girls in such situations are fair game.”

She said the majority of men were appalled by this attitude, but that a minority were doing it and continued to do it. “If a young man has been drinking and is assaulted on Patrick's St at 2am, the attitude is, there should be more gardaí on the street, but if a young girl is raped after drinking at the same time, people think differently.

“It's one big injustice. If you are a victim of sexual violence it's your own fault, but with other forms of violence, that's not the case.”

She said the work of SATUs is “vital” and that the Cork unit is “very good and very professional”.

She said there is a “huge gap” in terms of services for children under 14.

“There were discussions in Cork about this years ago,” she said, “but it seems to have disappeared.”

Cliona Saidléar of Rape Crisis Network Ireland agreed that the services for children were “lagging behind adult services”.

She said the Galway Child and Adolescent Sexual Assault Treatment Service was the initiative of local doctors and nurses but that it should be part of a national delivery of services, one replicated in other parts of the country.

She said SATUs provide an “immediate response” and a “crisis intervention” after an assault has just happened.

She said because SATUs are inter-agency facilities, “every need” is provided: Counsellors, support workers, rape crisis centre volunteers, forensic nurses, doctors, and gardaí.

Ms Saidlear said the accompaniment services that rape crisis centres provide at SATUs are “a critical part” of the required response to survivors straight after an assault. “That support has to be respectful,” she said. “Survivors can feel pressured, so they need to feel they were listened to and got what they needed.”

Young female student attacked by someone she knows in her home after 9pm

It tends to take place in the home.

In most cases, it happens between 9pm and 9am.

You are female and you are in your 20s.

In many cases you are a student.

Drink is often taken.

And, in most cases, you know the person.

That is the picture, in broad brushstrokes, of those attending the country's six sexual assault treatment units (SATU).

That includes those who know they have been violated and those who are not sure, or simply don't know.

The six units are located in Dublin, Cork, Waterford, Mullingar, Galway, and Letterkenny.

The busiest units are Dublin (Rotunda), Mullingar, and Cork.

In addition, there is a specialist unit for children, the Child and Adolescent Sexual Assault Treatment Service (CASATS), based in Galway — the only one in the country.

The figures compiled by National SATU Services provide a rare insight into the features of sexual violence — as captured by SATUs, which, experts point out, only see a fraction of all cases.

The figures are contained in the 130-page SATU Annual Key Service Activity Report 2015.

This brings together the individual detailed reports of the six units.

This is what it shows.


The numbers attending the adult SATUs rose from 628 in 2014 to 685 in 2015. Including CASATS, they rose from 692 to 758 (up 10%).

The figures for the individual units were: Cork, 100 (103 in 2014); Donegal, 45 (40), Galway SATU, 64 (48); Galway CASATS, 73 (64); Midland, 102 (85); Rotunda, 317 (286) and Waterford, 57 (66).


In almost two-thirds of cases nationally, the attacker is known to the victim.

But the relationship varies. Acquaintances account for almost 40% of all attackers, some of them only recently known to the victim.

Intimate partners, either current or former, make up 8%, and friends a further 11% of cases.

Strangers account for 28% of attackers nationally. Though a minority, they are the single biggest category. In some units (Waterford, Cork), they account for around 40% of cases.

For children, the situation is different: Only in 2% of cases is the person a stranger. In six out of ten cases, it's a family member — in all cases, bar one, a male.

The figures also show that, in a third of cases, a child assailant was involved.


In four out of ten cases, the attack took place either in the victim's home or that of the assailant. In some units (midlands, Galway), this increased to around half of all attacks.

Almost three in ten attacks happened in other indoor locations, though the types of places are not specified.

In some 7% of cases, they occurred in a car or taxi, though this figure was as high as 12% in the Galway SATU.

Some 5% of attacks occurred in a field or a park, though this was as high as 14% in Waterford.

Other outdoor areas account for 20% of cases.


In more than nine out of ten cases nationally, the patients at SATUs are female. The age range goes from 14 to 86.

In CASATS, the age range is from one to 16. The greatest single number of victims are aged 4 (11 of the 73) and almost 40% of the children are aged four or under.

Taking in all units, the average age is 25. In total, 157 (21%) of the 758 victims are under the age of 16.

In terms of occupation of the victim, some 43% are students (as high as 58% in Galway), 27% are employed, and 30% are unemployed.


In 83% of cases nationally, there in one attacker. In 9% of incidents, there are multiple assailants. The figure for multiple assailants is the highest in the CASATS (18%), followed by Cork and Galway (11%).


Alcohol features strongly in this area. Nationally, 44% of patients said they drank more than four units in the 12 hours before the attack. This figure rose to 69% in Cork and 58% in Donegal.

The average consumption was eight units (about four pints).

In a further 11% of cases, the patients said they had consumed drugs (illegal or prescribed), a figure ranging from 7% in Cork to 18% in Galway.

Another 11% of patients said they were concerned that they had been drugged in order to be sexually assaulted, a figure rising to 23% in Waterford.

More than a third said they had suffered physical trauma, rising to 47% in Waterford and 46% in the Midlands.

In almost two out of ten cases, patients were unsure if a sexual assault had occurred, reaching a high of 27% in Cork.


The figures show that 9pm-9am is the busiest time for SATUs, reflecting when the bulk of attendances happen.

Sundays and Mondays are the busiest days in most units, while August, October and December are the busiest months.

How to get help

Rape Crisis Centre 24-hour helpline: 1800 778888

CARI: 1890 924567

SATU locations:

Cork: South Infirmary/Victoria University Hospital

Donegal: Letterkenny University Hospital

Galway (SATU & CASATS): Hazelwood House, Parkmore Rd, Ballybrit

Mullingar: Midland Regional Hospital

Dublin: Rotunda Hospital

Waterford: University Hospital Waterford



Citizens step up reports of child abuse

by Erin McIntyre

Almost half the calls made to a statewide child-protection hotline concerning children in Mesa County were from community members, not mandatory reporters, in 2016, a sign that concerned citizens have increased participation in reporting suspected abuse and neglect.

The hotline received 7,287 calls from concerned citizens regarding Mesa County children in 2016, which amounted to 45 percent of the calls concerning local children that year. The participation of members of the regular public represented an increase from 17 percent of the calls made the previous year. The remainder of the calls came primarily from mandatory reporters, such as teachers and medical professionals, who are required by law to report suspected child abuse or neglect.

Those in the child-welfare community called the increase of calls from concerned citizens a sign that regular people who interact with children who are not required by law to report suspected abuse are understanding that everyone plays a role in preventing child abuse and neglect.

“The more eyes, the better,” said Robert Werthwein, director of the Colorado Department of Human Services Office of Children, Youth and Families.

The increase in friends, family members, neighbors and other members of the public participating in the hotline regarding Mesa County children was even more pronounced than the statewide average. Calls from community members across Colorado composed 40 percent of the total calls in 2016, compared to 24 percent the previous year.

Werthwein acknowledged that some people hesitate to report situations to authorities, and sometimes fear that it's not their business to get involved.

“If you're feeling uncomfortable with that situation ... That child is experiencing it much more,” he said.

Werthwein also said that his agency is focusing more on prevention and connecting families with resources, and sometimes a report can be the thing that ends up providing parents with the extra help they need.

“We want to move away from this mentality that child welfare is about policing — it's not. It's about supporting families.”

The Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline, launched in January 2015, serves as a direct, immediate route to reporting suspected abuse and neglect to any of the state's 64 counties and two tribal nations. All callers are able to speak with an operator 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, by calling 1-844-CO-4-KIDS, or 1-844-264-5437. The website is also a resource.

The hotline added a new category for reporting abuse this year in accordance with legislation passed in 2016. House Bill 16-1224 expanded Colorado's statutory definition of child abuse or neglect to include cases of human trafficking for sexual servitude.

The number of calls made to the statewide hotline includes reports made to the Mesa County Department of Human Services, Werthwein said, which also operates a local hotline reachable at 242-1211.



'Miley's Bill' calls for felony child abuse registry

SALT LAKE CITY — JoAnn Otten described in detail the abuse suffered by her granddaughter at the hands of the girl's biological father and voiced her support for a measure to create a child abuse registry.

Rep. Derrin Owens, R-Fountain Green, last week introduced HB149, also known as "Miley's Bill," alongside Otten, Miley's grandmother. The measure proposes to add a child abuse registry to the existing sex offender registry website, providing the public with information about felony child abusers.

"This would be another link on that website," Owens said. "I'm not sure why the sex offender registry was ever even begun without child abuse on there."

Otten, board chairwoman with Friends of the Sanpete Children's Justice Center and deputy recorder of the Manti City Council, took the opportunity to share with state lawmakers her family's troubling experience with child abuse.

On Oct. 16, 2013, Miley suffered from shaken-baby syndrome at the hands of her biological father, Gary Hansen, she said.

Otten said she had been called by Hansen that day and was the first person to respond, seeing her granddaughter in a near lifeless state. Hansen claimed that Miley had been choking, but it was later revealed that she had been shaken in frustration and left to herself until Hansen decided to call Otten.

Miley was given a 20 percent chance of survival, and when she recovered, her family came to find that she would have a severely decreased standard of life.

The abuse had come as both a severe emotional and financial pain to her family. Miley had to relearn how to eat, interact and even play with toys, and her mother, Chelsea, takes her to Orem every other week for physical therapy and for speech therapy.

"Miley's biological father was sentenced to one to 15 years for felony child abuse. Miley received a life sentence," Otten said. "Gary may not have killed Miley that day, but he certainly killed the girl and the woman that she was meant to be."

The cost of child abuse is not just physical and emotional, she said, but there are also significant costs to society.

Owens expressed the hope that HB149 will achieve awareness and prevention of further abuse.

The bill received strong support from the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee, as well as Bikers Against Child Abuse, who attended the committee hearing last week to support Otten and Owens.

The bill, however, was held in committee by a unanimous vote after Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, suggested that a simple change to the language could allow a child abuse registry website to have its stand-alone space.

"I drafted the original sex offender registry, and when we first drafted it, it was a sex offender registry — period," Ray said. "The whole idea when we originally drafted it was to not let it get watered down and to make sure that it actually meant something."

Ray expressed concerns with the ways he believes the sex offender registry has been softened since its creation, and he shared a desire that a child abuse registry not suffer the same fate.

"I noticed that the fiscal note for the current bill is $61,000,” he said. "I really think that for almost that much we could fund a stand-alone child abuse registry, which I think is the stronger way to do it."

The committee unanimously agreed to keep the bill and allow Owens to change the language so a separate website could be created for a child abuse registry.

"I'm absolutely thrilled," Otten said. "I think for us to have our own site will be wonderful, and I know that Rep. Ray will help us and get the best bill that we can get."

Indiana passed similar legislation last year, becoming the first state with a child abuse registry website. If Owens' measure passes, Utah would become the only other state with a child abuse registry.


When home schooling is ruse for child abuse

by Doug Hines

Iowa children Timothy Boss, 10, and Natalie Finn, 16, died, while Malayia Knapp, 18, is a survivor, in cases where foster children were adopted to get state financial assistance, but parents used home schooling as a ruse to avoid reports of abuse.

More than two million U.S. children are home schooled. Iowa had 10,732, last counted in 2012-13 before the Legislature eliminated virtually all oversight over their education, triggered by influential House Republicans who wouldn't otherwise support Gov. Terry Branstad's educational reform package.

Since 2000, according to the Coalition for Responsible Home Education, at least 320 home-schooled children in the U.S. have been severely neglected and abused, including 116 deaths. Eighty-eight were adopted.

While it's a small fraction of the home-schooled children, large Iowa loopholes allow some parents to try to get away with murder and abuse.

Home schooling allows parents, guardians and custodians to educate their children, as well as independent private home-school instructors, who can teach up to four unrelated children. No license, high school diploma or known ability is required; neither is a criminal background check.

Nicole Proesch, Iowa Department of Education general counsel, told the Des Moines Register parents home schooling their children, but not through a school district, are automatically in compliance with compulsory attendance laws. “If someone calls you out if your kid isn't enrolled this year, if the parent said, ‘I'm doing (independent private instruction) this year,' you could not file truancy on that child.”

Yet Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds' 2016 Future Ready Iowa Summit determined Iowa faces a major challenge with 8.3 percent of public school students chronically absent in 2015-16. “In an increasingly knowledge-based economy, missing a lot of school puts students at a disadvantage that is difficult to overcome,” Branstad said.

The lack of oversight contributed, in part, to tragedies involving these home-schooled children adopted from foster care:

Timothy Boss, a special-needs child, was adopted by Lisa and Donald Boss Jr. of Remsen. School officials sought to do a year-end educational assessment in 1999-200, but were told he was living in Michigan with relatives.

The relatives never saw him. He was beaten to death and buried in the basement. The father got a life sentence for murder; the mother 50 years for attempted murder.

Natalie Finn of West Des Moines, adopted by Nicole and Joseph Finn, died from cardiac arrest in October as a result of severe malnutrition. She was enrolled in an alternative public school in 2014-15, but removed.

“Natalie was on a self-study course with her parents, and she did not need to report to school,” school officials, who suspected abuse, told state Sen. Matt McCoy, D-West Des Moines, the Register reported.

The Finns face multiple felony charges.

Malayia Knapp of Urbandale, the oldest of six home-schooled half-siblings adopted by Mindy and Arthur Knapp, escaped to call police. Among other forms of abuse, video cameras in the house showed Mindy Knapp handing the older children a belt to discipline a sibling and locking them up for hours. She was charged with two counts of assault causing bodily injury or mental illness. After pleading guilty to one count of simple assault, Polk County Judge Terry L. Wilson gave her a year's probation and deferred judgment.

Home schooling works well for most children, Dr. Barbara Knox, medical director of the University of Wisconsin Child Protection Program, which serves eastern Iowa, told the Register.

The program studied 28 cases of extreme abuse in five states to find “any red flags to get children protected before they wound up victims of homicide.” Nearly 90 percent were isolated beyond the immediate family, three-quarters put in solitary confinement (one in a clothes dryer) and most had food and water restricted.

In almost half the cases, children enrolled in school were removed. “But that was a guise,” Knox said. “There was no home schooling or little home schooling taking place. The move typically happened after a child-abuse investigation.”

Home-schooling loopholes aren't the only culprits.

Child welfare workers were called to investigate concerns the Finn children were abused and begging for food five months before Natalie died of starvation, according to West Des Moines police. But DHS didn't act.

The DHS found the Knapps responsible for multiple allegations of abuse, but Judge Colin Witt returned the other children. They continue to receive DHS special-needs subsidies for adopting the half-siblings. The amount is confidential, but DHS pays $5,800 to more than $12,000 a year for each special-needs sibling removed from foster care.

While many parents involved in home schooling are wary of any government intrusion, the Legislature shouldn't turn a blind eye to these ruses and abuses, possibly enacting a form of independent oversight as a compromise. No matter how rare, these tragedies still must be avoided — with an assist from a responsive DHS and a responsible judiciary.



Training focuses on child sexual abuse

by Erin McIntyre

Knowing the signs that a child has been sexually abused and how to react if a child discloses that he or she has experienced abuse are just a few tools that community members can have in assisting victims of abuse.

But minimizing the opportunities for such abuse and knowing more about prevention is also key to making a change in the number of children who are sexually abused, and experts will be offering free training on all of these topics in February and March at the Western Slope Center for Children.

The center helped 424 children in 2015 in cases of sexual abuse, according to Jody Brandon, the nonprofit's development and outreach coordinator. Though the number of children assisted by the center's staff in 2016 decreased slightly to 391, Brandon said they're remaining vigilant to help spread awareness and make an even bigger difference to prevent future cases.

“One out of every 10 kids will be abused before their 18th birthday,” Brandon said. “Those statistics are actually lower than generations before us, and I think it's because we're starting to talk about it more.”

The Darkness to Light Stewards of Children training is geared toward adults who want to help protect children. The program is a two-hour presentation with a mission of increasing knowledge of abuse as well as how to minimize opportunities for it and tips on how to react to disclosures of abuse.

“It gives people the skills to create safer environments,” Brandon said.

She said any adults in the community are welcome to attend, including teachers, health professionals, law enforcement, members of the faith community, and people who are concerned about preventing abuse.

The center also provides certificates for teachers seeking continuing education credits for license renewal, at no cost.

Trainings are at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 21 and March 14 at the center, 259 Grand Ave. Register with Brandon at 245-3788 or


New Jersey

Matthew Sandusky To Speak About Child Sex Abuse At Stockton University

Matthew Sandusky is the adopted son of convicted child sex offender and former football coach Jerry Sandusky.

by Anthony Bellano

GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP, NJ — Matthew Sandusky, the adopted son of convicted child sex abuser Jerry Sandusky, will discuss the traumatic experiences that led him to take on the role of advocate for survivors at two events at Stockton University next month.

One event is free and open to the public, and the other is designed for legal and medical professionals, teachers, counselors and social workers.

On Thursday, March 2, the community is invited to hear Sandusky speak at 5:30 p.m. in the Campus Center Theatre on the Galloway campus, 101 Vera King Farris Drive.

The Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal at Penn State University was one of the most highly publicized such cases in history.

The former assistant football coach was convicted of 45 charges of child sex abuse in 2012 and sentenced to 30-60 years in prison.

During the trial, Matthew Sandusky disclosed that from ages 10-16, his adoptive father sexually abused him. His interview with police was leaked to the media and he and his family were placed in the center of a media and community firestorm.

He sees his role as giving survivors a voice to raise awareness to an epidemic that still remains mostly silent. He hopes that by telling his story, he is able to show survivors that hope always exists and that healing will happen. By speaking publicly he hopes to bring more awareness to the fact that males are sexually abused and that help is needed.

Matthew and his wife, Kim, founded the Peaceful Hearts Foundation to help survivors of childhood sexual abuse find the support and love they need and deserve.

It also works to help promote stronger statute of limitation laws, education for children and adults, a survivor fund to help alleviate costs of treatment for children who have been sexually abused, stronger mandated reporter laws, and other legislation as the need arises.

In the documentary, “Happy Valley,” he discusses his life with the Sandusky family, his abuse at the hands of his adoptive father, and the way a community treated him and his family in the wake of his disclosure.

In a one-on-one interview with Oprah Winfrey, he talked about attempting suicide at the age of 16. He also was featured in a second documentary, “Invisible Scars.”

Sandusky, 38, recently released a memoir titled, “Undaunted: Breaking my silence to overcome the trauma of child sexual abuse.” He discusses the physical, mental and sexual abuse he suffered as a child and the lessons he has learned in healing from the trauma caused by the abuse.

The memoir is also an educational tool for the reader on the issue of child sexual abuse. He uses his life's story to motivate people to take action to prevent child sexual abuse (CSA) and to positively engage and support adult survivors of CSA.

“We have been broken, but with love and support, we will rebuild and become stronger than we ever could have imagined,” he said.

Sandusky studied business at Penn State University. He is married to his second wife, Kim, and is the proud father of five children.

On Friday, March 3, Sandusky will speak to professionals at a Conference on the Victimization of Children from 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. in the Campus Center Event Room.

His keynote address is designed for attendees such as child abuse counselors and prevention services professionals, child protective services professionals, forensic interview specialists, human trafficking/sexual exploitation counselors, law enforcement officers, medical professionals, mental health/treatment officers, prosecution /legal professionals, social workers, teachers and victim advocates.

This $75, one-day conference will bring together professionals, researchers, policy makers, parents, and volunteers from a wide variety of disciplines to discuss the victimization of children.

The conference will focus on child sexual abuse, physical abuse and neglect, bullying, and human trafficking.
Presenters at the conference will provide current information on the nature and extent of the child abuse, intervention, prevention and support related to working with children and families affected by abuse and neglect.

At the conference, participants will have a better understanding of the various forms of child abuse, improved recognition of the symptoms of abused children, successful intervention, treatment plans for abused children, and increased knowledge and strategies to prevent child abuse.

Stockton co-sponsors include: Victimology and Victim Services Minor, Criminal Justice Department, Childhood Studies Minor, Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Minor, and the Stockton University Child Welfare Education Institute.

Stockton University is an approved provider of continuing education credits for Social Work, Marriage and Family Therapy, and Licensed Professional Counselor.

For more information and to register for the conference and Continuing Education credits, visit and choose Conference on Victimization of Children.



Opioid Addiction And The Rise In Child Neglect Cases

by Jill Sheridan

Child neglect is defined as a type of abuse where people can lose custody of their children because they can't provide the necessary care. Zoey Meisberger's parents couldn't care for her because of their addiction.

In 2015, there were 17,491 Children In Need of Services, or CHINS, cases filed in Indiana. This is a nearly 23 percent increase over the previous year and a 97 percent increase over the past 10 years.

Chief Justice of the Indiana Supreme Court Loretta Rush, addressed this increase in this year's State of the Judiciary. She says the opioid epidemic is a contributing factor and is affecting people in all parts of the state.

“I have had friends, professional and personal, who have lost their child to heroin or cocaine or methamphetamine,” says Rush. “I think it's an insidious drug. It starts off, quite often, with prescription pills, and then it just escalates.”

That's what happened to Paula Meisberger's youngest daughter, Brooke. She became addicted to opiates after a doctor prescribed pain medicine post-pregnancy.

“I knew something was wrong with Brooke, I thought she was being overmedicated, she was dealing with post-partum but I had no idea it was heroin,” says Meisberger.

In 2013, Meisberger was on vacation when she got the call that police arrested Brooke and her husband after they found them passed out in a car where one of their friends had overdosed. Baby Estelle was in the back seat.

“Being as we were so far away at first I just wanted Estelle because some guy had died in the car,” says Meisberger.

Estelle was only 8 months old at the time, Zoey was 3 years old – old enough to remember times when her mother and father were using and she once opened up to a court advocate while playing with a toy.

“She told the worker that the baby keeps on crying and mommy and daddy won't wake up,” Meisberger says.

Meisberger and her husband legally adopted three of their grandchildren. Estelle and Zoey, now 4 and 6, and their brother, 2-year-old Raiden, who was born heroin-dependent.

The increase in cases is a strain on the Department of Child Services, or DCS. The ACLU is currently suing DCS on behalf of a caseworker who was assigned more than 40 children. Indiana law says the department must provide enough caseworkers so that the average caseload doesn't exceed 17 children.

DCS says it's complicated. Cases overlap and are always in flux, multiple people may be involved in a single case, and most workers realize their caseload may not be compliant with the standard. Right now they have around 2,300 workers with open cases.

Court Appointed Special Advocates or CASA volunteers speak for and represent the best interests of abused or neglected children in the courts.

Judge Loretta Rush said there are more than 5,000 children waiting for a CASA appointment, 75 of those children are in Monroe County.

Director of CASA in Monroe County Kristin Bishay says their caseload has doubled in the past two years.

“There are tremendous more cases, cases are staying open much longer, I can tell you that cases that were open due to some addiction of a parent used to be 70-75 percent of our cases. Now it's a good 95 percent of our cases,” says Bishay.

Brenda McLane is a volunteer for CASA, and more like her are needed in every county.

“Those kids faces,” says McLane. “For me getting to see those children and how they light up and to have fun with them, personally, that's my motivation.”

Bishay says Indiana's child abuse laws are too weak, and she would like to see stricter policies in place and more support for prevention programs..

Indiana law says everyone who suspects abuse or neglect of a child should report to the Child Abuse Hotline.

But the process of identifying abuse is difficult and determining intervention is complicated.

Susie's Place provides a safe place for children to be interviewed, to determine next steps. Executive director and founder Emily Perry says they are also seeing a rise in cases related to opioid addiction.

“Sometimes that means kids are staying at home and sometimes that means kids aren't able to stay home to ensure their safety, but what we do know is we'll never be able to investigate our way out of this crisis,” Perry says.

Susie's Place has locations in Avon, Bloomington and, soon, Terra Haute.

“What we know about kids that are going through serious abuse or neglect is that they are experiencing trauma on a very high level,” says Perry.

Perry says the cycle of addiction is troubling.

“So what we're seeing is kids that are struggling in a home where drugs are prevalent are the same kids that are sometimes being drawn into drugs themselves,” says Perry.

She says resources, prevention, intervention and treatment all have to be part of the solution.

The Supreme Court's annual report finds termination of parental rights has also increased by 18 percent.

DCS says it's federally mandated to make all attempts to reunify a child with their parents but that wasn't going to work for Paula Meisberger who insisted if she was going to take custody of the children it was going to be permanent.

“Our kids need a voice and until they put tougher laws in place, these kids don't have a voice, why do these little ones have to suffer and how are we breaking the cycle here,” says Meisberger.

DCS is asking for an additional $50 million from the Indiana legislature to cover the growing number of abuse and neglect cases.


United Kingdom

Be curious: child neglect IS your business, police say

by The Bournemouth Echo

POLICE have urged the public to report signs of possible child neglect in a bid to keep youngsters safe.

They have joined forces with the NHS, local safeguarding children boards and local authorities to tell the people of Dorset to "Be Curious."

Signs may include children who are left hungry or dirty, without adequate clothing or they may live in dangerous conditions around drugs, alcohol or violence.

They might live in a dirty or unsafe home, may be angry or aggressive and may not receive basic health and dental care or medical treatment when they are ill or injured.

"Child neglect can be hidden within families and communities meaning that it doesn't come to the attention of agencies, who are well placed to provide specialist help" said Sarah Elliott, the Chair of both the Dorset and Bournemouth and Poole Safeguarding Children Boards.

"That's why we need the people of Dorset to also be our eyes and ears, to help spot the signs of neglect, so that timely support can be put in place for children and their families.

"Do not think 'it's none of my business', if you have concerns, be curious. Ask yourself, does a child's behaviour, appearance or living situation worry you? If it does, then tell someone. It might make the difference between a child being safe or at risk of harm."

If you think a child might be experiencing neglect, you can contact:

• Your local children's social care on:

01202 458101 (Bournemouth)

01202 735046 (Poole)

01202 228866 (Dorset)

• The NSPCC helpline on: 0808 800 5000 or visit

Dorset Police: or call 101.

If you believe a child is in immediate danger, call 999.



Survivors of human trafficking need help in wiping legal slate clean

"Vacatur" laws provide hope for starting a new life, but the Legislature must act

by Jenny Gaines

Should a 14-year-old child trafficked into the sex trade be considered a criminal, or a victim?

What about a 42-year-old adult who was trafficked at 14 and didn't escape “the life” for 28 years? Aren't both deserving of a second chance?

Until 2012, the only life I knew was one of prostitution. It started in my early teens when I was trafficked by a pimp who first pretended to be my boyfriend. It didn't end until nearly three decades later when a probation officer told me about a local nonprofit, Breaking Free.

During those dark years, I was beaten countless times, convicted of five felonies, went through treatment for drug and alcohol addictions 13 times, and had four children. While I told myself prostitution was a career I wanted, I now know that being exploited is never a choice.

Now, at 47, for the first time in my life I am truly on my own. Free from pimps, drugs and a destructive lifestyle, I now work as an advocate for other sex-trafficking survivors. But that freedom hasn't come easy for me, and it is not a given for the women I work with every day who are struggling to fully recover from an experience most people can scarcely imagine.

I believe lawmakers in Minnesota and in Congress can help trafficking victims regain a safe, productive life by passing what's known as “vacatur” laws. Enacted by more than a dozen states, vacatur laws enable survivors of human trafficking to vacate, or get rid of, convictions and expunge arrests for non-violent crimes committed as a direct result of having been a victim of trafficking. These important provisions transfer blame from the victim to the trafficker, where it belongs. They give survivors a second chance.

For me and so many others, one of the biggest challenges as a sex trafficking survivor is finding a job and affordable, safe housing. When landlords or potential employers see a record of convictions — or even arrests without convictions — they are often reluctant to hire or rent. Criminal records can also prevent trafficking survivors from getting driver's licenses, loans or visas. Minnesota law allows the court to expunge, or seal, a crime victim's convictions if a survivor can demonstrate that she or he was a victim at the time of the criminal act. However, the criteria for expunging records is restrictive for many survivors.

I believe Minnesota should pass and enact a strong vacatur law that 1) does not require the survivor to present official documentation certifying them as a victim of trafficking; 2) is not limited to vacating only certain prostitution offenses; 3) does not require the survivor to prove that he or she has left the sex industry or been “rehabilitated”; 4) offers confidentiality to protect victims' identity, and 5) ensures all trafficking survivors can benefit from vacatur by funding legal-services lawyers to work with survivors.

At the federal level, our representatives in Congress can also play an important role by supporting the Human Trafficking Survivors Relief and Empowerment Act. This legislation provides a process by which a trafficking survivor can move to vacate any arrest or conviction record for a nonviolent federal offense committed as a direct result of human trafficking.

Of course, nothing will change if people are not aware of the challenges facing survivors of human trafficking, so it's also important to educate others. I recently witnessed just how powerful education can be after Breaking Free survivors spoke with students at the University of St. Thomas. While we initially met with them to have our own speaking skills evaluated, students became passionate about human trafficking after hearing our stories, and conducted research of their own that supports the need for Minnesota to implement vacatur laws that match those of other states.

It was gratifying to educate others, and I was moved to see the students translate their passion into the fight for survivor rights. I've gotten a second chance in life, and am making it my life's work to help other trafficking victims get theirs.

It is my hope that more Minnesotans will learn, understand and act by calling on our lawmakers to implement vacatur laws.