Cardinal George Pell Returns to Australia, Charged With Sexual Offenses
by Adam Baidawi
SYDNEY, Australia — Cardinal George Pell returned on Monday to his native Australia, where he has been charged with sexual offenses, as a commission released a new trove of documents from its investigation into the Roman Catholic Church's past response to abuse allegations in the country.
Cardinal Pell, 76, one of the highest-ranking figures in the church's global hierarchy, was met by the Australian Federal Police at Sydney's international airport, where his flight from Singapore landed just before 6 a.m. The cardinal had staggered his flights from Rome on his doctors' advice, a spokesman said.
The cardinal, a close adviser to Pope Francis, has denied the charges against him, which were announced last month by the police in the Australian state of Victoria. Details of the charges have not been made public, except that they are “historical,” meaning that the alleged crimes occurred long ago, and that there are multiple accusers.
Cardinal Pell was charged by summons, meaning he was notified of the charges and ordered to appear in court but was not arrested. He is scheduled to appear in a Melbourne court on July 26.
In a statement Monday, a spokesman said the cardinal's return to Australia “should not be a surprise.”
“When he was told of the charges by the Victoria police, Cardinal Pell said in Rome he totally rejected the allegations, was completely innocent of the charges and would return to Australia to vigorously defend himself and clear his name,” the statement said.
At that news conference in Rome last month, Cardinal Pell said he was a victim of “relentless character assassination.” He said, “The whole idea of sexual abuse is abhorrent to me.”
Hours after Cardinal Pell's arrival on Monday, an Australian commission released documents from its continuing investigation into Catholic institutions' handling of sexual abuse allegations in Australia in recent decades. A spokesman for the panel, the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, said the timing of the release was coincidental.
The release included numerous emails and letters related to specific abuse allegations, with some identifying details redacted. The commission has previously said that from 1980 to 2015, more than 4,000 Australians made allegations of child sexual abuse involving Catholic institutions, and that 7 percent of Catholic priests were accused of sexually abusing children from 1950 to 2010.
The commission has faulted Cardinal Pell's handling of abuse accusations against clergy members when he led the archdiocese of Melbourne, beginning in 1996, and later of Sydney. The cardinal appeared before the commission last year by video link from Rome; he had declined to appear in person on the grounds that the flight from Rome would pose a health risk.
Andrew Collins, a 48-year-old Australian who has said he was abused by members of the clergy as a child, praised the commission's work on Monday.
“Survivors have been calling for a royal commission for years, simply because we couldn't get justice,” said Mr. Collins, who has said he was abused by four different men in churches and schools in Ballarat, Cardinal Pell's hometown. “The first part of justice is to have the past recognized. I think the royal commission has well and truly done that.”
The commission, which began its work in 2013, is scheduled to present a final report to the Australian government in December.
Anthony Fisher, the archbishop of Sydney, has said that the church will not pay for Cardinal Pell's legal defense, though he said it would assist with his “accommodation and support.” In 2014, the commission said Catholic orders in Australia had paid tens of millions of Australian dollars in legal fees and settlements on behalf of priests accused of sexual abuse.
Baseball clinic to raise awareness about child abuse
by Jessica Bies
An upcoming baseball clinic hopes to raise awareness about child abuse and help prepare families for the possibility of the worst: an abduction or kidnapping.
At an Aug. 20 event hosted by the Beau Biden Foundation for the Protection of Children, the Wilmington Blue Rocks and Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation mentors will interact with youth through a series of stations including outfield skills, hitting, Quickball and a law enforcement presentation.
Beau Biden Foundation staff will have a booth set up for parents and their children to create Child ID Kits and learn more about Internet safety. The kits contain information typically found in an Amber Alert or missing person's bulletin: a current, high-resolution picture of the child (to be updated every six months), personal information, medical information and fingerprints.
While many parents may have that information on file, every minute spent looking for it after an abduction is a minute that could have been spent on the search for their missing child.
“This is an exciting opportunity for us,” said Patty Dailey Lewis, executive director of the Beau Biden Foundation. “Beau coached his son's Little League team, and he knew the relationship between a coach or a mentor and a child was incredibly important. The Beau Biden Foundation is committed to make sure kids have the tools they need to be safe, and a big part of that is healthy relationships with mentors and law enforcement."
The clinic will be held about 4 p.m., after a game between the Blue Rocks and the Myrtle Beach Pelicans at 1:35 p.m.
Tickets for the game may be purchased online at http://delonline.us/2uIJ5Xk or by calling the box office at 302-888-2583.
Dog helps children heal from abuse and trauma at Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center
by Angie Jackson
The newest addition to the Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center has four legs, soft fur and a gentle way of supporting child abuse victims.
The King Street center recently added a facility dog to its mix of services that has long included counseling, forensic evaluations, medical exams and family support for child victims of sexual and physical abuse. Poppy, a 2-year-old yellow Labrador, is trained to comfort clients and their caregivers.
Dr. Carole Swiecicki, Dee Norton's executive director and CEO, said Poppy can help clients ages 3 to 18 as they participate in the evidence-based treatments the center provides, such as therapies effective in treating PTSD. Kids can pet and cuddle with Poppy while speaking with a therapist, helping to make the experience less daunting.
"If having Poppy makes it feel less scary to them, then that's what I'm super excited about," Swiecicki said.
Poppy was provided by Canine Companions for Independence, a nonprofit based in California that partners people with service dogs, hearing dogs, facility dogs and assistance dogs for veterans. Poppy came at no cost to Dee Norton, and grant funding from The InterTech Group Foundation covered travel costs and one year of veterinary care.
Bailey Jackson, one of 11 staff therapists at Dee Norton, trained with Poppy for two weeks to become her handler. Poppy lives with her.
Poppy can perform tricks meant to engage and motivate kids, such as how to open doors and drawers, how to offer her paw and how to carry around items such as a bucket of markers. Her laid-back demeanor makes her a good fit with children as they heal from abuse and trauma.
"She can really pick up on some of those nuances that we may not pick up on and can tell when somebody needs a little extra attention," Jackson said.
Recently, a young girl told Jackson that Poppy is "so good" at taking care of kids. Appearing relaxed and docile on a recent afternoon, Poppy seemed content with receiving belly rubs from staff members between therapy sessions. Kids gravitate toward her, and she often reminds adults of their dogs at home.
"I think it brings a sense of peace and calmness to the families that we serve. This can be a scary experience for some people, as much as we try to make it not threatening," Jackson said.
Swiecicki plans to talk with prosecutors about the best way to integrate Poppy into forensic interviews. She's heard of instances in which an offender told a child not to tell anyone about abuse, but the child will feel comfortable "telling" the facility dog because then they're not breaking the rules.
As Dee Norton plans to open a second facility in Mount Pleasant next year, the center will likely need another dog to meet client demand, Swiecicki said.
"I actually can see us needing several," she said.
Attorney for alleged sexual-abuse victims labels Larry Nassar's plea bargain a 'stunning betrayal'
by Scott Reid
An attorney representing dozens of women who allege they were sexually abused as young girls by former USA Gymnastics women's Olympic and national team physician Larry Nassar has accused federal prosecutors of betraying those former athletes by agreeing to a plea bargain with Nassar.
Nassar has agreed to plead guilty to federal child pornography charges as part of a deal in which federal prosecutors agree not to pursue more serious sex exploitation and attempted sexual exploitation of child charges, according to documents related to the case in U.S. District Court.
Nassar on June 23 signed off on a draft of an agreement in which he will plead guilty to receiving child pornography, possessing child pornography and destruction of evidence. His attorney, Matthew Newbury, signed the agreement on July 5, according to a U.S. District Court Western District of Michigan, Southern Division document.
The document states that the court can still make final determinations on how federal sentencing guidelines apply to the case.
Nassar still faces state criminal sexual abuse charges in Michigan and civil lawsuits filed by more than 100 former young gymnasts and other underage athletes who allege Nassar routinely sexually abused them even as they were competing at or training for the Olympic Games and World Championships.
Nassar has been at the center of the largest sexual abuse scandal in American sports history, a controversy in which former U.S. Olympic and World championship team members have accused USA Gymnastics, the sport's national governing body, and former U.S. Olympic coaches Bela and Martha Karolyi and other top officials and coaches of creating a culture of abuse within the sport that enabled Nassar's criminal behavior.
John Manly, an Orange County attorney who represents several of the former gymnasts in civil cases, criticized the deal, charging that prosecutors gave Nassar a break and that the deal sends a dangerous message to Nassar's alleged victims and their families and future victims of sexual abuse.
“My clients know the FBI has worked very hard on this case,” Manly said. “However many of my clients wonder why the U.S. Attorney would make any deal with Nassar on child pornography. I mean, what's his defense? Did someone sneak into his house and download 37,000 images of child porn? Why would the Justice Department give him any break? America's national team and Olympic gymnasts have been told by the U.S. attorneys their cases will not be prosecuted because of this deal. If that's true that it is stunning betrayal.
“The Government is albeit unintentionally sending a message that molesting young athletes while far away from their families and competing for our country will not be taken seriously. These girls and women are the best America has to offer. They and their families deserve justice for what was done to them, not a deal that gives their tormentor a break. I hope that the Justice Department reconsiders any deal that allows Nassar to escape prosecution for molesting these girls.”
Each of the three counts carries a prison sentence of up to 20 years and a fine of up to $250,000. Nassar also agreed to supervised release after serving time and to register as a sex offender.
Nassar received child pornography between Sept. 18 and Dec. 1, 2004, according to court documents. He also possessed thousands images or videos of child pornography between 2003 and 2016, some of which “involved a minor who had not attained 12 years of age,” the plea agreement said. The agreement also alleges Nassar had his computer cleaned on Sept. 19, 2016 at a local computer store. A day later federal agents found his computer hard drives in trash cans Nassar had placed on the street outside his home for collection.
Manly and Nassar's alleged victims are frustrated by federal prosecutors who included a non-prosecution agreement as part of the deal in which they agree “not to further prosecute” Nassar “for sexual exploitation and attempted sexual exploitation of children.”
Those instances, the agreement said, are “related to conduct” that took place in Nassar's swimming pool in the summer of 2015 involving two minors and “interstate and international travel with intent and engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places.”
Hunt for the man who first accused Michael Jackson of abusing him as a child
by Adam Smith
A manhunt has been launched to find Jordan Chandler, the first boy to accuse Michael Jackson of child abuse, after lawyers in a $100m lawsuit against the megastar's estate demanded he testifies in court.
Mr Chandler, now 37, has not been seen since last year and is believed to have fled America to avoid being involved in the case lodged by Wade Robson and Jimmy Safechuck.
The explosive new lawsuit claims Michael Jackson and key staffers at MJJ Productions and MJJ Ventures ran a ‘sophisticated child sexual abuse procurement and facilitation operation.'
A source close to Robson and Safechuck said: ‘Wade and Jimmy want to look Jordie in the eye and talk to him about what they suffered, they feel that they may appeal to him to finally tell his story.'
Lead attorney Vince Finaldi, whose team have already tracked former employees at Jackson's Neverland Ranch, added: ‘He's a key piece of the puzzle surrounding this case, and we're not going to stop until we find him.'
‘We look forward disclosing to the public, through trial, the full extent of Michael Jackson's serial sexual abuse of children, which was facilitated through his companies MJJ Productions and Ventures.'
He added: ‘Make no mistake, Neverland Ranch was nothing but a well-orchestrated trap, it was custom-built to attract kids so he could groom them and decide which to sexually abuse.'
After drawing a blank in the US and failing to get Chandler in a courtroom last September the legal team are now looking in the UK and Europe.
Jordan's sister Lily has also been approached by the legal team but also refused to help citing Jackson's maniacal fans as the reason she did not want to get involved.
A section of Jackson fans spent years hounding Jordan's father Evan for bringing proceedings and he eventually killed himself in 2009 three years after being accused of domestic violence.
When details of his death, by a single gunshot wound, emerged a flurry of celebratory social media posts from Jackson fans appeared on the internet.
The lurid accusations by Jordan's father Evan in 1993 against Jackson and subsequent $20 million settlement shocked the world and tainted the King of Pop.
After a chance meeting aged just 12 the two became close, with the pop star often inviting him to Neverland.
Both Jordan's biological parents said they caught Jackson in bed with their son and Evan claimed one night to find Jordan being cradled from behind by Jackson, whose hand was cupping his groin.
The Wade Robson v Jackson estate lawsuit is set to be heard in Los Angeles on March 5, 2018.
However, Jackson's lawyer Howard Weitzman said: ‘My opinion is that summary judgment will be granted in this case and there won't be any trial, but the court did set a trial date for a year away just in case.'
Training offers tips for abuse prevention
by Patricia Middleton
The sexual abuse of children is tragic, especially because in many cases it is preventable.
CASA: A Voice for Children is hosting an informational session to give individuals the knowledge and tools they need to prevent, spot and report the sexual abuse of a child. Stewards of Children training will be held from 9 to 11 a.m. Aug. 5 at First Presbyterian Church, 900 N. Columbus in Newton.
CASA is a nonprofit organization that advocates for the best interests of abused and neglected children within the court system.
“We recruit volunteers who go through training and are appointed by a judge to advocate for a child in foster care,” said CASA Outreach Coordinator Bill Reynolds.“In addition to that, we also try to promote education for (abuse) prevention.”
Reynolds has worked in social services for nearly 50 years and said there is more awareness of the sexual abuse of children now than in recent decades, though he doubts the number of victims has decreased.
“I think in the past it wasn't talked about; it was kept within the family,” Reynolds said. “And it still is, to a large extent.”
The training is from the nonprofit organization Darkness to Light, which claims that nearly one in 10 children are sexually abused before their 18th birthday. In 90 percent of reported sexual abuse cases, victims know their abuser — 30 percent are abused by family members and 40 percent are abused by other children. Children who live with a single parent with a live-in partner are 20 times more likely to be victims of sexual abuse than children living with both biological parents. Sexually abused children are more likely to experience depression, obesity, homelessness and suicide.
The Stewards of Children training is video-based and features speakers who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Attendees receive a workbook that contains practical guidance for individuals and the organizations for which they work to take.
“During the course of the training, you have the opportunity to write stuff in the book and take it with you,” Reynolds said.
There are observable physical, behavioral and emotional clues that can signal adults to the possibility of a child being sexually abused.
“They give you things to look out for,” Reynolds said.
The training is especially relevant for anyone who deals with groups of children regularly, such as Scout leaders, camp counselors, school bus drivers or Sunday School teachers.
“In my view, it's really good for churches,” Reynolds said. ”...It makes everybody more aware of the issue and helps people become accepting of talking about it.”
Steps are outlined to show how you can work to eliminate or reduce situations in which an adult is alone with a child, which lowers the risk of sexual abuse happening.
“When you're in a church and you see an adult taking a kid off, you can say, ‘hey, that might not be such a good idea,'” Reynolds said.
The Stewards of Children training will talk about what sexual abuse is, its prevalence in all areas of society and understand how it occurs.
“It's not going to prevent everything, but it just heightens the awareness of the potential,” Reynolds said.
Children who are being sexually abused often choose to tell another trusted adult — not their parents — about what is happening.
The Stewards of Children training teaches individuals how to react responsibly when they suspect, discover or are told about the sexual abuse of a child.
“Recognize the signs. When kids are being abused, they can be withdrawn,” Reynolds said.
It is important to talk with children about sex and improper touching, encourage them to ask questions and tell a trusted adult if someone makes them feel uncomfortable.
To RSVP for the Stewards of Children Training or to request the session for your organization, contact CASA by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 316-284-6909. The two-hour session is free, though reservations should be made before July 24.
26 people in custody after child abuse, exploitation investigation
by Hannah Vogel
BENTON COUNTY, Wash. – Police told Action News they took 26 people into custody since last Thursday for their involvement in child abuse and exploitation over the internet.
Authorities said the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, the Washington State Patrol, local and county agencies helped through the investigation.
"What is most disturbing as a law enforcement officer, I shudder to think what would've happened if one of these 26 suspects met a real child?" said Lt. James Mjor of Washington State Patrol.
Officials said 26 suspects are now in custody after a major five-day child sex sting.
"The hard part of this job is not dealing with predators but seeing the devastation they actually do to children," said Mjor.
45 law enforcement officials went undercover, posing as predators, children and even parents.
Officials went on common sites like Craigslist and Backpage, responded to ads of underage children for sex and made some of their own ads to entice predators.
Officials told Action News over 100 people responded.
Authorities said over two dozen traveled to meet who they thought were children for sex, but those kids turned out to be cops.
"This operation potentially saved an unknown number of children who would've otherwise been victimized by these suspects," said Mjor.
Police released a full list of suspects, and say five additional suspects had access to children at risk of being abused.
The suspects range from 20 to 70 years old, and most of them are from the Tri-Cities.
"Often we think of ourselves here on an island in that we don't deal or have to deal with some of these big city crimes we hear about on the west side of the state- but we do," said Chief Chris Skinner with the Richland Police Department.
Police said the best thing parents can do is monitor their kid's online activity.
"It starts with the community to raise a family, to raise a kid. We have to stick together on that and educate our children on the dangers that can occur," said Mjor.
Although police had a successful sting, they said they're not stopping there and will continue to track down predators.
The Richland Police Department is hosting a class for parents next Wednesday, July 19th at Washington State University, to educate them about how to spot dangerous online activity.
The names of those arrested during the Task Force operation are as follows.
Ryan D. Harris, 32, Pendleton, OR
Douglas Arbogast, 70, Pasco, WA
Marco A. Celis-Hernandez, 21, Richland, WA
Andrew L. Sanders, 33, Pasco, WA
John M. Scheline, 40, Pasco, WA
Gabriel Saenz, 41, Kennewick, WA
William J. Barrett, 47, Kennewick, WA
Darren J. Kerbyson, 50, West Richland, WA
James C. Doty, 34, Richland, WA
Yasir M. Majeed, 35, Kennewick, WA
Gregory B. Taber, 75, Pasco, WA
John N. Schouviller, 31, Pasco, WA
Antonio C. Garcia, 21, Richland, WA
Lucas F. Beach, 38, Pasco, WA
Stephen C. Perez, 45, Pasco, WA
Ali Al Mahfood, 35, Kennewick, WA
Kyle R. Sickels, 25, Kennewick, WA
Jesus G. Contreras Salgado, 29, Tieton, WA
Dewayne L. Hetrick, 42, Kennewick, WA
Thomas A. Swarers, 69, Kennewick, WA
Jerome G. Williams, 24, Kennewick, WA
James C. Escobeda, 20, Kennewick, WA
Yuriy L. Gulchuk, 35, Kennewick, WA
24. Jairo Lopez, 20, Yakima, WA
Aaron D. Hagerty, 42, Kennewick, WA
Daniel A. Medina, 20, Pendleton, OR
Greenville internet child abuse task force arrests 16
by Mike Lepp
GREENVILLE Co., S.C. (WSPA) – The Greenville Co. Sheriff's Office and other agencies announced the results of a months-long operation aimed to stop Internet crimes against children.
While the sheriff's office had a task force in place to investigate crimes against children, Greenville County Sheriff Will Lewis increased resources soon after taking office.
The sheriff's office had a task force in place, but there weren't staff dedicated to Internet crimes.
A new team of five investigators has been working to clear a back log of cases.
The Julie Valentine Center is also working directly with the sheriff's office to assist with investigations and help victims.
Shauna Galloway-Williams, executive director of the Julie Valentine Center, says each arrest by the task force impacts the entire community.
“Most of those offenders didn't just have one victim, they likely had multiple victims. There probably wasn't just one image or one child, there were multiple times and so to think about the exponential harm that could've been caused and the benefit that is now brought to the community when those individuals are stopped from doing what they're doing, you can easily see how incredibly important this task force is to our community,” Galloway-Williams said.
How U.S. Taxpayers Are Subsidizing A Child Epidemic At The U.N.
The United Nations, heavily subsidized by U.S. taxpayers' dollars, has faced a widespread child sexual abuse problem for years and reacted with little more than silence.
by Andrew Macleod
On February 28, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres confirmed that UN peacekeepers and civilian staff faced 145 allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse impacting on 311 victims in 2016 alone. There are nearly 40 cases so far in 2017. Many of the victims, by the UN's own admission, are children.
As one 11-year-old child put it, “I didn't have breasts yet, but he still raped me.” It is the one indefensible act. Child rape.
Even the UN recognises that these numbers, while huge, are likely to be the tip of the iceberg and represent only the crimes that have been reported, involving mainly just one part of the UN: Peacekeeping.
These numbers are a small proportion of the sex and child rape crimes committed by UN staff and peacekeepers over at least the last two decades. Neither the sex scandals of the UN in the Bosnian War dramatized in the 2010 film Whistleblower nor the long-running “Food for Sex” scandals of the early 2000s. are covered in these figures.
What is worse, decision makers have known this for years but have failed to crack down.
A Save the Children report over a decade ago found abuse at all age levels “from 8 to 18,” though the victims older than twelve were identified as being “regularly involved in ‘selling sex.'” The Save report went on to say that, among the children interviewed, “all of the respondents clearly stated that they felt that the scale of the problem affected over half of the girls in their locations.”
The outbreak of such heinous activity at the UN highlights just how vulnerable the victims are. Faced with legal safeguards in the United States and Western countries, evil men have found that it is easy to gain access to children in developing countries. People in power know this, so much so that since 1999 authorities have warned that problem of paedophiles in the aid world is on a level with sex tourism.
As Western countries have cracked down on paedophilia, many predatory paedophiles have targeted the developing world to find child victims. An easy way to gain access to children in the developing world is to join a children's charity. It is disgusting, but logical once you are told.
UN officials know this, yet have failed to act decisively.
Of the accusations the UN lists on its own website, and of those that involve rape of a child, which the UN has investigated and shown to be “substantiated,” do you know how many have been reported back to authorities for prosecution?
None. Not a single one.
The UN uses legal and sovereign immunity claims to prevent prosecution. The UN chooses not to waive immunity and therefore uses this legal fiction to protect child rapists rather than the children.
For at least 20 years, the leadership of the UN has known and failed to effectively act. Former Secretary General Kofi Annan listed his failure to act on the paedophilia of UN staff in his ten years as Secretary General as one of his regrets, and immediate past Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has acknowledged not enough has been done.
People have been using soft words about paedophilia in the UN and large NGOs for decades. None of this is secret. None of this is surprising. But never has pressure been seriously applied for something to be done. The current Secretary General proposed a four-part strategy putting “the rights and dignity for victims at the forefront of UN efforts.”
“I fully recognize that no magic wand exists to end the problem of sexual exploitation and abuse,” Guterres said. “Nevertheless, I believe that we can dramatically improve how the United Nations addresses this scourge.”
“Dramatically improve” are weasel words. We should be stronger. We should stamp this out and we could start with the language.
For example, the UN used “sexual abuse” to describe the 14-year-old child, together with her 18-year-old friend, set upon by UN peacekeepers near Bambari Airport in Central African Republic late in 2015.
This is not “sexual abuse.” This is gang rape of a child. Call it for what it is.
Approximately 28 percent of UN peacekeeping operations, and a quarter of all UN operations, are funded by the United States' taxpayer. The U.S. taxpayer is effectively funding child rape.
By withholding funds, the United States could stop the rape, yet no previous U.S. government has had the courage to say “Stop, no more.” It is time the U.S. government put an end to this.
It is time the U.S. government said to the UN: “fix the problem.” If the UN does not fix it, then the US should stop funding it. U.S. taxpayers should not fund child rape. It is that simple.
Through plea deal, USA Gymnastics doctor Nassar may avoid charges for alleged abuse at Olympics
by Will Hobson
Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics team physician accused by more than 100 women of sexual assault, has agreed to a plea deal that could mean he won't ever face criminal charges stemming from allegations he assaulted Team USA gymnasts overseas at the Olympics and other international events.
Under the agreement, Nassar has agreed to plead guilty to three federal charges related to possession of child pornography. Each charge carries a potential sentence of up to 20 years. According to the agreement, U.S. attorneys will recommend a combined prison sentence of about 22 to 27 years for Nassar, a 53-year-old osteopathic physician and father of three.
In exchange for Nassar's admissions of guilt, U.S. attorneys in Michigan will not pursue charges related to “interstate/international travel with intent and engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places,” as well as allegations Nassar assaulted two children in his family's swimming pool in the summer of 2015, according to the document.
The plea agreement, first reported Friday evening by the Detroit News, was signed by Nassar on June 23, and by his attorney July 5. Prosecutors are expected to file the document in federal court Tuesday. Nassar still faces 22 state charges in Michigan relating to allegations of sexually assaulting children, and convictions in those cases could result in a life sentence. Nassar has maintained his innocence. His attorney, Matt Newburg, did not reply to a request to comment Monday.
In a phone interview Monday, the attorney representing seven former Team USA gymnasts who have accused Nassar of fondling and penetrating them with his fingers during routine examinations called the plea deal a “shameful” and “cowardly” decision by federal prosecutors.
“The message that this sends to our Olympic and elite athletes in this country is that you don't matter,” said John Manly, whose clients include Jamie Dantzscher, who won a bronze medal at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. Manly also represents other former Team USA gymnasts who wish to remain anonymous who allege abuse by Nassar at other Olympics, the World Gymnastics Championships and the Pan American Games.
A spokeswomen for the U.S. attorney's office in Grand Rapids, Mich., where the case is located, did not respond to a request to comment Monday.
U.S. attorneys would have faced jurisdictional issues pursuing criminal charges involving acts that occurred in foreign countries, according to Guy Womack, a former federal prosecutor and criminal defense attorney in Houston.
“If it happens overseas, and it's not on land or property that is used or occupied by the United States, then the federal government really doesn't have a claim there,” Womack said.
Manly pointed out that U.S. attorneys have used federal laws in other cases to pursue charges against Americans who committed sex crimes against children while traveling abroad.
“If they didn't have the authority to charge him, then why the hell did they investigate it?” Manly said.
The plea agreement also could mean Nassar never faces criminal charges over allegations he assaulted gymnasts at Bela and Martha Karolyi's ranch in Huntsville, Tex., which for years has served as the training facility for USA Gymnastics' women's team.
Texas Rangers had been investigating allegations of abuse at the facility, but turned that case over to the FBI in Detroit, according to Lt. Craig Cummings of the Texas Department of Public Safety. A spokesman for the FBI's Detroit office did not reply to a request to comment Monday.
In the plea agreement, Nassar admits to knowingly collecting and possessing thousands of images and videos of child pornography between 2003 and 2016, and to trying to destroy evidence when he realized law enforcement was investigating him last year.
In September, the document states, Nassar paid $49 to have a computer service store “wipe” his work laptop, and also tried to dispose of two hard drives. Police discovered the hard drives in Nassar's garbage cans when they came to search his home. An FBI agent later testified that the hard drives contained approximately 37,000 images and videos of child pornography, some showing girls as young as 6.
Last week, Manly said, prosecutors reached out to his clients to inform them of the deal. In explaining the decision not to pursue other charges against Nassar, prosecutors told Manly's clients that several victims were unwilling to testify, Manly said.
“Is it hard work to prosecute someone like that? Sure. But that's their job … It's just mind-blowing,” Manly said.
Nassar served as a volunteer physician for USA Gymnastics, the organization that trains and selects Team USA gymnasts, for nearly 30 years, and treated gymnasts at four Summer Olympics. Nassar also worked full-time in the school of osteopathic medicine at Michigan State, where he treated the Spartans' gymnasts and other college athletes. The majority of the more than 100 women who have sued Nassar and Michigan State have alleged assault in connection with his employment at the university.
In June 2015, officials at USA Gymnastics in Indianapolis became aware of an allegation of abuse against Nassar, the organization has said. USA Gymnastics investigated on its own for five weeks, and then reported Nassar to the FBI.
USA Gymnastics ended its relationship with Nassar in July 2015, but did not publicize the separation. In March, USA Gymnastics president and chief executive Steve Penny resigned as the organization drew rising criticism for the five-week delay in reporting Nassar to law enforcement.
Nassar continued to work at Michigan State, and treat athletes and children at a university clinic, until last August, when a woman filed a criminal complaint with the university police. USA Gymnastics officials have said FBI agents told them not to inform Michigan State of their suspicions about Nassar in 2015. The FBI has declined to confirm this.
5 behind bars as Fayetteville battles sex traffkicing
by Greg Barnes
FAYETTEVILLE, North Carolina (WTVD) -- Fayetteville police say five people were arrested and charged with human sex trafficking after a four-month-long investigation.
Now - many communities - such as Fayetteville - are taking steps to get help for the victims who've been lured into becoming sex workers.
Police say cracking down on human sex trafficking is a big, ongoing effort.
Usually they say the victims - some young teenage girls - are tempted with drugs or money, and then coerced into sexual service, usually at local hotels.
Their "services" are often promoted through social media and online personals.
The five arrested are:
Jeremy Shane Gentry Jr., 22, listed as homeless, has been charged with felony promotion of prostitution, felony conspiracy to commit human trafficking - adult victim, felony conspiracy to commit negligent child abuse - serious physical injury. He received a $100,000 secured bond at the Cumberland County Detention Center.
Stanley Dwayne Olaf Koberger, 24, of the 100 block of Alan Parker Circle in Spring Lake, has been charged with human trafficking - adult victim and felony conspiracy to commit human trafficking - adult victim. Koberger received a $100,000 secured bond at the Cumberland County Detention Center.
Kelly Brooke Morrison, 23, of the 5400 block of Jackson Street in Hope Mills, has been charged with felony negligent child abuse - serious physical injury. She received a $50,000 secured bond at the Cumberland County Detention Center.
Jonathan Michael Becker, 19, of the 7500 block of Branchwood Circle in Fayetteville, has been charged with felony conspiracy to commit human trafficking - adult victim. He received a $100,000 secured bond at the Cumberland County Detention Center.
Shirley Weatherholt-Becker, 45, of the 5600 block of Camden Road in Fayetteville, has been charged with felony conspiracy to commit human trafficking - adult victim. Becker received a $100,000 secured bond at the Cumberland County Detention Center.
One of the big weapons in this war on the flesh, is the Dream Center on Ray Avenue. In the past year, it has helped turn around the lives of 36 young women who were trapped in the sex-slave business.
Working with law enforcement, the clergy and other agencies to promote community awareness, Kelly Twedell said the Dream Center is helping young victims get away from their nightmare, and we can all help.
"If you see a young person who can't make eye contact, who is very withdrawn, controlled by an older adult, possibly much older, and something that could appear like a romantic relationship, that could be a sign - but not always," said Twedell, director of the Dream Center Outreach. "If you see someone carrying a lot of hotel keys and maybe two or three cell phones, that could be a sign."
Each victim, she said, has their own story, and needs. The problem is they are not always on the streets, and often hidden behind closed doors. That's why anyone who suspects human trafficking needs to call 911, she said.
If you, or you believe someone you know, is or has been the victim of human trafficking you are asked to contact Detectives with the Fayetteville Police Department by calling 910-433-1885 or Fayetteville / Cumberland County Crimestoppers at (910) 483-TIPS (8477).
Crimestoppers information can also be submitted electronically by visiting http://fay-nccrimestoppers.org and completing the anonymous online tip sheet, or by downloading the FREE "P3 Tips" app available for Apple devices in the Apple App Store and available for Android devices in Google Play.
Chicago priest who abused child still working with kids
by the Dispatch-Argus
CHICAGO (AP) — The Claretians Roman Catholic order has settled a lawsuit from a man sexually abused as a 6-year-old by a teenager who later became a prominent priest in Chicago, confirming in the settlement obtained by The Associated Press that the longtime cleric recently left the priesthood.
But Bruce Wellems, 60, still works as executive director of a non-profit that offers youth mentoring, alternative schooling and other programs for children, according to a staff list at the Peace and Education Coalition. Its head office is also located in the same southwest side Chicago church where he served as priest for two decades.
The settlement was signed in May and not released publicly. It does not say exactly when Wellems asked to be released from the priesthood but it would have been since the lawsuit was filed in September.
The Chicago-based Claretians did not agree to one request of the now 52-year-old victim, Eric Johnson, that the order release records of all its priests credibly accused of sexual abuse, as several other Catholic orders have done.
While Johnson, a father of three children employed in the financial sector, told The AP he's disappointed the Claretians refused to open their records to scrutiny, he said his main objective in filing the suit in Cook County Circuit Court in September was achieved: To reveal the abuse by Wellems and ensure he left the priesthood.
He said the abuse began in 1973 when he was 6 and just weeks before Wellems turned 15 when they lived in the same neighborhood in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Johnson says he was abused more than a dozen times over a year. Wellems would sometimes ask for sex acts if he defeated Johnson in basketball-shooting contests, he said.
What Wellems did, he says, "haunted me most of my life."
Wellems didn't respond to recent messages seeking comment. But he admitted to the AP in emails and an interview in 2014 as the AP began researching the case that he had inappropriately touched Johnson and he described it as "abuse." He said it happened twice. And he said he never again abused a child, and never as an adult or priest.
The statute of limitations on any criminal charges expired years ago.
Wellems said he was burdened by the shame of what he'd done and it was one reason he devoted his career to helping children.
"I never thought it was right," he said. "I don't think it's me. The only urges I have experienced about children is revulsion at the thought of hurting anyone else."
The 168-year-old Claretian order, which has more than 3,000 priests and brothers worldwide, has traditionally put an emphasis on helping the poor, immigrants and the young.
In the copy of the settlement provided to the AP by Johnson, the Claretians also agreed to pay him $25,000, a relatively small sum for a child-abuse case. The Claretians don't admit to any wrongdoing. Claretian attorney Richard Leamy Jr. said Tuesday: "As the matter has been resolved, we have no further comment."
The Archdiocese of Chicago said it wasn't a party to the suit and added only that, "We refer any questions about religious order personnel to the religious order."
Through the 1990s and 2000s, Wellems had the reputation of being bright and charismatic, devoted to a host of activist causes from his Holy Cross Immaculate Heart Church in Chicago's in the heavily Latino Back of the Yards neighborhood. Illinois' House even passed a resolution in 2007 praising him for saving kids from gang violence.
But Wellems' response to the abuse shouldn't have been to make children his life's work, Johnson said.
"His self-prescribed penance of setting himself up to work with troubled youth ... is disturbing," he said. "I cringe at the thought of him being placed in the environment of his choice."
Joelle Casteix, a western regional director for Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said Wellems' employment at the Peace and Education Coalition pointed to a phenomenon she has seen before of former priests parlaying lingering good will in their communities to secure or keep jobs that involved children.
"The Catholic Church has long cut predator priests loose on the public when the church could no longer handle the liability," she said.
So what can be done with ex-clergy young enough to work, like Wellems, and who need to earn a living?
"The answer has never been to turn them loose on to unsuspecting communities," Casteix said. The Church, she added, should "find a safe and secure place for offending clerics, where they can no longer be a threat to children and can live a life in devotion to prayer."
Considering the long-term effects of child abuse in South Carolina as a health care crisis
by Dustin Waters
In 2015, 14,856 children in South Carolina were victims of abuse. Of that total, more than 11,400 were first-time victims, but as instances of abuse and neglect increase across the state, that likely won't be the case for long. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that the number of child abuse victims in South Carolina jumped by more than 30 percent between 2011-2015. And while many people may have an understanding of the mental health issues that linger long after abuse, the relationship between lifelong physical health problems and adverse childhood experiences often goes overlooked.
A recent study completed by members of the South Carolina Rural Health Research Center, Children's Trust of South Carolina, and the University of South Carolina set out to document the reported instances of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) in South Carolina and their relationship to health problems during adulthood. ACEs include instances of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, as well as household dysfunction such as exposure to divorce and separation, domestic violence, incarceration, mental illness, and substance abuse. What they found is that the interrelatedness of these adverse experiences during childhood often translates to major health problems, many of which plague the state.
"We know now from this first study that there is a connection between ACEs and negative health — both poor physical health and poor mental health — in South Carolina residents. We also know from this research that the more ACEs you have and the increased exposures you have, the greater the likelihood of negative health, both physical and mental health outcomes in adulthood," says Elizabeth Crouch, assistant professor at USC's Department of Health Services Policy and Management and researcher with the South Carolina Rural Health Research Center.
According to a report coauthored by Crouch, individuals who reported three or more adverse experiences during their childhood were almost three times more likely to describe themselves as having poor general health. This group was also more than three times more likely to report frequent mental distress in adulthood. From this, it's easy to see that solving South Carolina's public health concerns will require a comprehensive approach that is not only multi-generational in scope, but also provides access to a wide variety of services to treat these issues.
"If there was a takeaway about the inter-relatedness, it's that ACEs occur together, so when we're thinking about prevention, we have to think about prevention together," says Aditi Srivastav, the adverse childhood experiences coordinator with Children's Trust of South Carolina. "It's not something that just the child welfare community can do together by themselves. It has to be a combination of different sectors coming together to assess the different types of adversities that a child is likely to experience."
Looking over data provided by Children's Trust of South Carolina, South Carolinians who reported exposure to adverse childhood experiences were more likely to suffer from heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, heart attack, and asthma. Those who described themselves as being in poor health were more than twice as likely to have experienced at least one of the previously mentioned adversities during childhood.
As far as the behavioral risks associated with ACEs are concerned, more than 70 percent of smokers and binge drinkers reported an adverse childhood experience, as did 68 percent of those who said they never wear a seat belt. What this research shows is that the stresses of a difficult childhood can weigh on a person long after they are removed from a dangerous environment, and instability in many households can play a major role in the health problems South Carolina faces.
"We know that any kind of prevention programs, whether it be multi-generational, home visiting, or school-based programs, or whatever we can possibly do, those kinds of prevention programs are going to have short-term effects, which is what I think policy makers are always looking for. They want to know what will have an immediate return on investment. But the really important thing about this is that we have improved health outcomes for South Carolina residents in the long term," says Crouch.
An important tool in addressing the multi-generational problem of adverse childhood experiences are home visiting programs, which offer both parents and children with direct support from trained staff. Between August 2015 and September 2016, Children's Trust reported more than 17,500 visits to the homes of new and expecting parents and at-risk families. In those 12 months, 82 percent of post-partum women were screened for maternal depression and 94 percent of children completed their recommended doctor visits. To fund these efforts, Children's Trust receives financial assistance through the federal Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Grant Program. Set for funding reauthorization this fall, advocates for home visiting are hoping to increase federal funding to the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program from $400 million a year to $800 million annually over the next five years. While this investment would mean a great deal to those hoping to provide better guidance for new and struggling parents, the long-term health care and financial benefits for states such as South Carolina cannot be overstated.
"With policy makers, they are trying to bring corporations here, like with BMW or anyone else who has come here. You want to show you have a healthy workforce. So I think with the prevention of ACEs, you're showing the long-term effects," says Crouch. "In the long term, you can prevent these things, have a healthier workforce and a healthier population 20 or 30 years down the road. It really is fixing things in the long term, and when you intervene with multi-generational programs, you're improving the parents' lives and helping them become even more productive members of society than they were before."
Schools' child abuse policy changes for upcoming school year
by Kaitlyn Loyacano
MONROE, La. (KNOE 8 News) - School districts throughout the state will soon have a new child abuse policy. The change in the policy is who is now going to be responsible in making sure the appropriate authorities are notified of child abuse or neglect.
According to the policy update, school boards recently received a letter from the Governor's Office of Programs and Planning calling into question a commonly used procedure.
Before teachers or anyone who works with children in schools had to inform the principal of suspected child abuse cases, and the principal would file the complaint with authorities.
But now, anyone who works or volunteers at schools must report suspected child abuse directly to law enforcement, or the Department of Children and Family Services.
One reason for the new policy change is because of incidents like the one that happened a few months ago when a teacher was accused of abusing a mentally disabled student.
The arrest warrant has also raised questions about what school administrators and the superintendent knew about the alleged abuse and why it wasn't reported to police.
"I think going back to school now that's going to be part of my message our message with all of our teachers and our school employees is to let's go over this again you are a mandated reporter you must go to the authorities," says Sandie Lollie, Monroe Federation of Teachers president.
Mandated reporters are anyone who is considered to be teaching or a child care provider or anyone who provides such services in a voluntary or professional capacity.
The policy was revised in May and will go into effect in August.
Upstate teachers leasrn how to spot child abuse
by Katy Solt
SPARTANBURG, SC (WSPA) – Teachers from across Spartanburg County, Greenville, and even Lexington are back in the classroom this week. The training they get now, may make a huge difference in keeping kids safe this fall.
Dozens of teachers are learning how to spot signs of child abuse at USC Upstate's “Compassionate Schools Summit”.
Suzy Cole, the executive director at the Child Advocacy Center, says this training is crucial, because teachers are sometimes the first line of defense when it comes to keeping students safe. Cole says more teachers now than ever are the first ones to report signs of abuse to police.
“Now kids are hearing from the teachers they trust ‘Hey it's okay to talk about this stuff.' So teachers are becoming more and more the prime reporters that we see,” Cole says.
Since Erin's Law passed in South Carolina, all public schools in the state are required to have programs that educate teachers on child abuse and how to report it.
Dr. Jennifer Parker, the director of the Child Protection Training Center at USC Upstate, says programs like this bring awareness to issues that were once looked over by educators.
“All of the sudden, these fidgety children who are hyper-vigilant and disruptive in class are viewed differently. The teacher understands that their behavior is not just disruptive and oppositional, but perhaps it's a survival skill from the environment that they're living in,” says Dr. Parker.
Dr. Parker says they host seminars like this year round, and already have schools that have signed up for more training this year.
Memphis Child Advocacy Center pushing to train 35,000 people by 2019
by Stacy Jacobson
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The Memphis Child Advocacy Center has reached the halfway point in its push to train 35,000 people in its Stewards of Children course by 2019.
“The Memphis Child Advocacy Center is working toward a tipping point goal in protecting children in our community,” executive director Virginia Stallworth said.
According to Stallworth, 20 percent of Shelby County adults report being child sexual abuse victims. That's double the national average.
“We are wanting to train all adults in Shelby County but specifically parents and adults who volunteer or work in health care settings, school settings, faith-based organizations and traditional youth-serving organizations,” Stallworth said.
Lindsay Krosnes, the Orpheum's education director, is one of 30 Orpheum staff members who's taken the course.
“It certainly made us more aware of different situations that could occur you might not think about. Something as simple as someone coming in to ask to use the restroom in the lobby,” she said.
The course also discourages organizations from putting children in one-on-one settings with adults.
And it provides a defense, making organizations less vulnerable, according to Stallworth.
“This is proactive for organizations serving kids, making sure they're not an agency or organization where perpetrators can gain easy access,” she said.
According to the training video, “sexually abused children are often at risk for psychological, emotional and physical problems often lasting into adulthood.”
Officials said they'd trained large groups like the Memphis Police Department and also smaller groups like Playhouse on the Square.
The Child Advocacy Center offers two open-enrollment classes per month. Groups can also schedule courses at their convenience.
Call 901-888-4363 or visit memphiscac.org to sign up.
Understanding why some female teachers sexually abuse pupils
by Andrea J. Darling
More than 100 women were convicted of sexual offences in 2015. The figures, obtained via a freedom of information request, show the number of convictions almost trebled in a decade. Among those convicted were a number of school staff, including teachers, a head teacher and a teaching assistant.
The attractive female teacher "seducing" the wide-eyed teenage pupil is a plot line that has recently featured in two popular TV shows: Ackley Bridge and Hollyoaks. This kind of story is often portrayed as a "coming of age" experience but legally, a teacher engaging in any form of sexual relationship with a child under their care is abuse. And while it's not spoken about very often, female perpetrated sexual abuse in schools does happen.
Although this type of abuse goes on, determining how common it is can be very difficult, given the limited research in this area. One study in the U.S. found women were responsible for 19% of child sexual abuse committed in positions of trust. A recent international research review across a number of countries also found concerning levels – reporting that one in nine sex offenders were female.
And yet, despite these figures, what is officially recorded in criminal justice statistics tends to be much lower. In 2011, for example, women made up only 1.5% of the sex offender population in prison or on probation in England and Wales.
Not like other sex offenders
Generally women involved in this type of teacher-pupil case do not fit the mould of what many consider a "predatory paedophile," in that unlike other sex offenders, they do not specifically enter their professions to access children. Instead my research has found that many (though not all) of these women appear to abuse because of their own unmet intimacy needs resulting from relationship problems and feelings of loneliness, for example.
These women are also different from other female sex offenders in that they are generally older, more affluent, have better social skills and less issues with substance abuse. Their behaviour is also to some extent influenced by the very situations they are working in.
Existing research is unclear if these types of female sex offenders tend to prefer male or female victims. Indeed, my own research has shown that while male pupils are the most typical victims, over a fifth of victims are female. And I've also found that many of these women who abuse girls are not known to have previously been involved in same-sex adult relationships.
The female abuser
Despite the impact this type of abuse can have on a victim, in these types of cases it is often debated whether this is anything more than just professional misconduct if the victim is over the age of consent.
This is because social and cultural norms mean that women are often viewed as nurturers and carers, "the fairer sex," and are therefore not capable of sexual aggression. So this means that abuse by a woman is seen as being less harmful than abuse by a man – and viewed as the result of mental instability or coercion by a male partner. And this not only minimises the offending behaviour, but it also unfairly downplays the consequences for victims.
This behaviour is abusive and needs to be regarded as such. It is a form of sexual violence recognised in law since the introduction the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act in 2000. This makes it quite clear that any sexual behaviour between an adult and a young person aged over the age of consent – which in the U.K. is 16 – but under the age of 18, is a criminal offence, and punishable by up to five years in prison.
The realities of abuse
Although it is positive that there is more coverage of female sex offenders across the mainstream media, sadly, these representations are all to often sensationalised and do not portray the reality of the abuse and the impact it can have on victims.
There needs to be less of the soft focus, romantic themed shots set against dreamy music and more of the harsh reality of the impact of this type of abuse on young people – as well as their friends, families and communities.
Ultimately, these inappropriate female teacher-pupil relationships need to be reported and presented in the same way they would be if the perpetrator was a male – which tends to be much more a narrative of abuse rather than the star crossed lovers motif so often seen in TV dramas.
Homesafe: Providing comfort and hope for abused youth
by the Palm Beach Post
What is HomeSafe?
Founded in 1979, HomeSafe protects Palm Beach County's and South Florida's most vulnerable residents – victims of child abuse and domestic violence. Serving more than 16,000 infants, children and families each year, we provide comprehensive programs preventing new cases of violence, protecting victims of child abuse and domestic violence, and preparing children and families for safer, more productive lives.
How does your agency benefit the community?
HomeSafe is dedicated to preventing child abuse and domestic violence by providing hope and healing to victims. Too many children and families in Palm Beach County face obstacles to living safe, productive lives because they are traumatized by the abuse they have suffered. Our agency is the only group home provider in Palm Beach County that offers therapeutic services to address severe emotional, behavioral and psychiatric issues present in abused and neglected children. We now offer an extensive continuum of care that begins at birth and extends through young adulthood and beyond. By providing services and support tailored to each client's specific needs, we provide a pathway to self-sufficiency and success.
What is your agency's focus for 2017?
One of HomeSafe's top priorities for 2017 is achieving full occupancy of the Pond Place apartments and making this new independent living program fully operational. We also are embarking on efforts to grow the agency's endowment funding annually as part of our strategy to strengthen the agency's financial vitality.
How can the community help?
HomeSafe is always in need of volunteers for the SafetyNet program. SafetyNet volunteers prepare meals for clients' children prior to the weekly group therapy sessions held on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, and will provide care to children from birth through age 5 while their parents and older siblings attend the sessions. Also, in addition to direct monetary contributions to our programs, we will consider appropriate in-kind donations — ranging from furniture, clothing, or equipment to professional services.
Creating safer, more productive lives for infants, children and families.
Residential Group Care: HomeSafe operates five group homes in Palm Beach County for severely abused children ages 8-17, providing comprehensive 24/7 therapeutic services designed to treat their trauma and enable them to transition to a less restrictive setting.
LifeSkills: The LifeSkills program is an integral part of HomeSafe's residential programs, increasing the academic growth and achievement of children served by providing them with essential life skills to succeed when turning age 18 and throughout adulthood.
Independent Living Housing Program (HomeSafe at Pond Place): Launched in November 2016, HomeSafe at Pond Place comprises 12 one-bedroom, single-occupancy apartments that offer safe, affordable housing for clients who have “aged out” of group home foster care.
SafetyNet: Through an array of intensive therapeutic and support services, crisis intervention, and individual and group therapy, SafetyNet helps victims take control of their lives to secure a safe, productive future. The program also helps prevent future cases of domestic violence by working to break the generational cycle of abuse.
Healthy Beginnings: In partnership with the Children's Services Council of Palm Beach County, HomeSafe is the exclusive entry agency for children from birth through age 5 and their families for the Healthy Beginnings program. HomeSafe provides free screenings and assessments for children to identify any developmental delays or behavior concerns and mothers for postpartum depression.
HOMESAFE, 2840 Sixth Ave. S., Lake Worth, FL 33461. 561-383-9000; www.helphomesafe.org
Pike Commissioners OK $50K grant for child abuse prevention
by Anya Tikka
MILFORD — The planned Children's Advocacy Center (CAC) in Pike County got a boost in June when Pike County Commissioners authorized a grant of $50,000 from The Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency toward making the center a reality. District Attorney Ray Tonkin and Senior Deputy District Attorney Sarah Wilson came to the June 7 Commissioners' meeting and spoke briefly of the plans.
CACs are part of the National Children's Advocacy Center that explains on its website, “The NCAC models, promotes and delivers excellence in child abuse response and prevention through service, education and leadership.”
In Pike County, coordination of services eventually means a child is only subjected to one interview by a forensic interviewer in criminal cases with a full recording. Currently, the process can mean an already abused child has to go through several interviews, repeating often traumatic events over and over.
Tonkin explained some of the money will go toward developing programs to accurately track cases as well. In Pike County, several agencies are involved in making the CAC happen, including the Commissioners, Pike County Safe Haven and the District Attorney's Office.
Grand Jury report: 'Raw, disturbing' child abuse issues probed
by Daniel Mintz
HUMBOLDT – Humboldt County's Grand Jury has released an annual report that delves into child welfare issues that are “raw, disturbing and should be of concern to all members of our community.”
Protecting children from abuse and responding to it were main investigative items in the report, which was released in full last week.
Declaring that “the children of Humboldt County are ill-served by the intake system that is meant to protect them,” the report analyzes the effectiveness of child protection services.
“Unfortunately, the (Grand Jury) discovered that our children are not being afforded the protections that they deserve,” the report states.
According to the report, the county's Child Welfare Services (CWS) division twice denied the Grand Jury's requests for intake processing data based on confidentiality issues – and then “abruptly made notable changes to their policies and procedures at intake.”
The report allows that the new procedures may improve the timeliness of CWS responses to instances of abuse and neglect but states that the Grand Jury “cannot conclude that serious deficiencies have been corrected until CWS provides needed measures of timeliness.”
The report's recommendations include having the county's Department of Health and Human Services develop a “timeliness metric” for measuring response times once child abuse/neglect is reported.
In a related investigation, the Grand Jury probed the response effectiveness of three key entities – school districts, law enforcement and CWS.
The Grand Jury found “numerous problematic areas” with each, along with “major problems” in how agencies interact to address child abuse.
Recommendations include having the Humboldt County Office of Education instruct school personnel “on the importance of filing a written report” with CWS after making initial phone contact.
The county Sheriff's Office is requested to file investigative reports even when allegations are not confirmed, to create a record that may show the need for “more in-depth investigation.”
The Grand Jury also looked into law enforcement readiness in outlying areas in a section of the report titled, “Rural policing in Humboldt County: Lawlessness Ignored?”
The report states that according to FBI data, violent crime in the county's unincorporated area has increased by two-and-a-half times since 2012, “exceeding the national average for the first time in many years.”
Statistics between 2005 and 2014 show that Humboldt County has the highest arrest rate in the state, according to the report. It also states that “crime continues unabated” because criminals are “empowered by the perception that law enforcement will not respond when called.”
Finding that “rural areas of county are underserved by law enforcement and other emergency services,” the report acknowledges that recruitment and training requirements delay staff additions.
That's especially relevant to adding deputies funded by the Measure Z public safety tax, which has been “slow,” according to the report.
The Grand Jury recommends increased funding for the Sheriff's Office and streamlining hiring procedures and “staff retention protocol.” Measure Z expires in 2019 unless renewed by voters and the report recommends that the county find a “permanent funding model.”
The county's $232.3 million employee pension funding liability as of June 30, 2015 is also probed in the report, which asks, “Will Unfunded County Pensions Un-fund Our Future?”
It threatens to, according to the report, “particularly if projected tax revenues do not materialize or if we have a business recession that affects county revenues.”
The report states that the pension liability “could jeopardize vital programs, even Humboldt County's solvency.” A main recommendation is for the county to contribute at least $2 million to the trust fund dedicated to covering the liability in the 2017 to 2018 budget.
The Board of Supervisors approved the budget in late June and the pension liability fund will get a contribution equivalent to a half-percent of projected county employee salary costs for the fiscal year. That's forecasted to amount to about $819,000.
The liability fund's balance, not including the current fiscal year contribution, is about $1.2 million.
Also in the report, the Grand Jury analyzes accounts of employers seeking – and not finding – skilled workers for available jobs. The report recommends that the Workforce Investment Board “increase its effectiveness by focusing on targeted employment needs and opportunities and broaden program descriptions to include clearly-defined skill levels.”
The report also found that the 2015 consolidation of the county Sheriff's Office and Coroner/Public Administrator office has led to “significant operational improvements” but not cost savings. However, the report notes that “the consolidation was most successful in rescuing an underfunded operation.”
The Board of Supervisors and other agencies evaluated in the report will issue responses to the Grand Jury's findings and recommendations in the coming weeks.
New equipment designed to make child abuse victims more comfortable
by Kristin Hosfelt
Medford, Ore. — A new piece of equipment will be making a big impact on the work at the Children's Advocacy Center of Jackson County. NBC5 News got a first look at what it does, and what it will mean for the children they serve.
“They were designed with our clients and our patients in mind,” Tammi Pitzen, Executive Director of the Children's Advocacy Center of Jackson County says.
Of the 200 or more children the Children's Advocacy Center serves each year, their visit for a medical exam is a tough one.
“We serve children ages 0 to 18 who have been victims of child physical abuse, child sex abuse or chronic neglect,” Pitzen says, “generally the most serious of the serious.”
Part of the exam process involves taking pictures of suspected physical or sexual abuse. It can be an uncomfortable process. But CACJC's newest piece of equipment is making it easier.
“This piece of equipment is like taking television from regular TV to high definition,” Pitzen explains.
With the tap of a screen, or the push of a button, images are captured instantaneously and secured through encryption and passwords. They're not only clearer and available immediately, but it's non-invasive and a doctor doesn't have to be right behind the lens as images are being captured.
“Sometimes the older kids like to be more involved in the exam,” CACJC medical assistant Kayla Devincenzi explains, “so we give them a little button and we can tell them ‘okay take the picture' and then they'll press the button and they'll be the ones doing the exam.”
For some kids, that control is something they didn't feel before they came through the CAC's doors. So while a new camera might seem small to some, it could mean the world to a child in need.
“We're always as an agency striving to be able to provide thse services to children in a way that is most comfortable for them and makes the most sense given the trauma that has brought them to us,” Pitzen says, “and this piece of equipment is a way to allow us to do that.”
The equipment was paid for through Victims of Crime Act grant funding. They are also set to receive an integrated wall system for the exam room thanks to a grant from Crater High School students and Willow Wind Community Learning Center.
Childhood Maltreatment Associated With Increased Rish of Psychosis in Ultra-High Rish Individuals
by Laura Stiles
Researchers have found that in individuals at ultra-high risk (UHR) for psychosis, childhood abuse and neglect are pluripotent risk factors for developing psychosis, depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), panic disorder, and social phobia in adulthood. The findings were published in Schizophrenia Bulletin.
Mark van der Gaag, PhD, from the department of psychosis research at Parnassia Psychiatric Institute in The Hague, The Netherlands and colleagues assessed 259 UHR individuals from the EU-GEI study (EUropean network of national schizophrenia networks studying Gene- Environment Interactions), a naturalistic, prospective, multicenter study aiming to identify the interactive genetic, clinical, and environmental determinants of schizophrenia.
“In the last 2 decades, research has increasingly focused on early detection of psychosis,” the researchers wrote. “As 70% of individuals meeting UHR criteria will not go on to develop a psychotic episode, it is important to search for additional factors that may contribute to psychosis risk.”
Maltreatment in childhood was assessed at baseline with the Child Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ), and clinical outcome was assessed at 6, 12, and 24 months with the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Axis I Disorders (SCID). Subclinical psychotic symptoms in the year before the study were assessed with the Comprehensive Assessment of At-Risk Mental States (CAARMS), and cannabis use or abuse was assessed with a modified version of the Cannabis Experience Questionnaire.
The researchers found that despite previous research showing the strongest associations between sexual abuse and psychosis, findings from this study showed that a history of emotional abuse was associated with an increased risk for transition to psychosis (odds ratio [OR] 3.78; 95% CI, 1.17 to 12.39; P =.027). However, this effect was only present when controlling for the effects of other types of maltreatment.
“Interestingly, emotional neglect significantly protected against transition to psychosis,” they wrote. “It might be that childhood without emotional comfort or protection teaches the child that he can stand being neglected and survive on [his] own. However, it should also be noted that different types of child maltreatment are likely to co-occur, and further research is needed to explore the effects of child maltreatment.”
A history of physical abuse was associated with depressive disorder (OR 4.92; 95% CI, 2.12 to 11.39; P =.001), post-traumatic stress disorder (OR 2.06; 95% CI, 1.10 to 3.86; P =.023), panic disorder (OR 2.00; 95% CI, 1.00 to 3.99; P =.048) and social phobia (OR 2.47; 95% CI, 1.18 to 5.16; P =.016).
“Our findings could be explained by the fact that adverse events during [childhood], a period of significant brain maturation, probably impacted neurodevelopment,” the researchers wrote. “Exposure to adverse events may result in an overactive stress regulation system and permanent changes in the hypothalamicpituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. An overactive HPA-axis causes increased cortisol levels in the brain, leading to increased distress in reaction to environmental stressors.”
They also noted that psychological processes may also explain the association between child maltreatment and psychopathology. Child maltreatment may lead to the formation of negative self-schemas, which could lead to depressive symptoms. Negative self-schemas may also trigger suspiciousness and hypervigilance, which could lead to psychosis.
Summary & Clinical Applicability
“In congruence with earlier reports, our findings clearly indicate that child maltreatment is significantly more prevalent in young individuals who present with UHR symptoms compared [with] controls,” the researchers wrote. “However, significant associations were only found for emotional abuse and it might be that child maltreatment is a risk factor for UHR status but that its additional effect on transition to psychosis in the UHR stage is limited.”
These findings emphasize the importance of reducing the harmful effects of emotional and physical childhood abuse.
“Because in particular the combination of child maltreatment and the presence of attenuated psychotic symptoms seems a precursor for severe and complex psychopathology, it is warranted to screen for UHR status and childhood abuse in mental healthcare settings,” they concluded.
There is the possibility of recall bias with the child trauma questionnaire (CTQ)
The CTQ does not examine details of the trauma
Depressive symptoms may have contributed to an overrepresentation of child maltreatment
The transition rate to psychosis may have been underrepresented since the 24-month assessment was incomplete when data was being analyzed
The study did not control for risk factors for psychosis such as ethnicity or socioeconomic status
Other forms of childhood maltreatment such as bullying or witnessing domestic violence were not analyzed
Recent life events, which have been shown to affect transition to psychosis, were not analyzed
The control group was small compared with the UHR group; therefore results should be interpreted with caution
Current cannabis use was assessed, but type or quality of cannabis was not analyzed; frequent cannabis use has been associated with risk of psychosis
Higher use of general health care services throughout adult life linked to traumatic childhoods
by Medical Xpress
Experiencing physical, sexual or emotional abuse as a child, or other stresses such as living in a household affected by domestic violence, substance abuse or mental illness, can lead to higher levels of health service use throughout adulthood.
A research paper in the Journal of Health Service Research & Policy provides, for the first time, the statistical evidence showing that, regardless of socio-economic class or other demographics, people who have adverse childhood experiences use more health and medical services through their lifetime.
The research showed that:
Individuals who suffered multiple types of ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences - physical, sexual or emotional abuse or other stresses such as living in a household with domestic violence or with adult substance abuse or mental illness) are more than twice as likely to use hospital emergency departments, require overnight hospital stays or be frequent users of general practices as adults.
The study of 7,414 adults in England and Wales compared those who suffered ACEs with those whose childhoods were ACE free. Those with four or more ACEs showed substantially increased levels of health care use even as young adults (18-29 years) with these increases still apparent decades later.
In young adults with no ACEs 12% needed to attend an emergency department in the last year, rising to 29% in those with four or more ACEs. By the age of 60-69 years 10% of individuals with no ACEs required at least one overnight hospital stay (in the last year) rising to 25% of those with four or more ACEs.
High levels of ACEs are common. In this general population sample 10% of all adults had experienced four or more ACEs as a child meaning that childhood trauma may be a major contributor to pressures on adult health services.
The researchers from the University's College of Health and Behavioural Sciences conclude that investing in preventing or reducing adverse childhood experiences as well as addressing the resulting trauma in those who have experienced ACEs, can help reduce future health service demand and costs.
Mark Bellis, Professor of Public Health at Bangor University's College of Health & Behavioural Sciences said:
"Even at the most basic biological levels, experiencing ACEs can change children leaving them more likely to develop poor physical and mental health throughout their lives. A safe and nurturing childhood is a recipe for building stronger, happier children, with a much greater chance of becoming healthy adults."
"Our results demonstrate that the more adverse experiences people suffer as a child the more likely they are as adults to be frequent users of basic health services such as GPs and emergency services as well as requiring more specialist overnight hospital support. As costs of health care escalate in the UK and abroad, it is essential we take a life course approach to health that recognises the problems we frequently see in adults begin with childhood traumas."
Commenting on the study, Professor John Middleton, President of the UK of Faculty of Public Health said:
"The vast majority of parents want to set their children on healthy life courses and there is a great deal that health and other public services can do to help, especially in the poorest communities. Investing in quality childhoods can break cycles of adversity that have affected families for generations. However, cutting corners with support for families and children will mean we continue to pay in poor adult health and increased pressures on health services for generations to come."
Professor Karen Hughes, of Bangor University, a co-author of the paper added:
"Adult risks of becoming smokers or heavy drinkers and of developing cancers, diabetes and other life threatening diseases are all increased in those with a history of childhood adversity. This study shows how the health consequences of ACEs impact not just on the individual but also on the health services that support them. Health professionals already play a substantive role in treating the life long impacts of childhood adversity but recognising the role ACEs play in adult ill health should provide opportunities for better treatment and a greater focus on prevention."
Backpage hit with new evidence it controls sex-trafficking ads
by Post Staff Report
A contractor for Backpage.com has been aggressively soliciting and creating sex-related ads for the sleazy classified ad site, according to a trove of newly discovered documents.
The explosive new evidence — which contradicts repeated denials by Backpage that it has played any role in the content of the ads posted on its site — shows that Backpage hired a company in the Philippines to lure advertisers and customers seeking sex from competing sites.
The documents could be a turning point in the yearslong campaign by anti-human-trafficking groups and Congress to crack down on Backpage's persistent hosting of prostitution ads — including postings of underage girls and boys that have been linked to a slew of gruesome murders in the US and abroad.
The new evidence, which includes spreadsheets, emails, audio files and employee manuals, was revealed by chance in an unrelated legal dispute, and was first reported on Tuesday by the Washington Post.
Executives at Dallas-based Backpage have long denied claims from US lawmakers and law enforcement that they have facilitated prostitution and sex trafficking, arguing that Backpage is protected from such charges because it qualifies as a passive platform for third-party content under the US Communications Decency Act of 1996.
Backpage execs have also contended they remove illegal ads and report violators to the police. The company says it uses an automated program to remove objectional words from ads, such as “lolita” and “teenage” and “rape” — while failing to remove the ads, according to a Senate subcommittee report earlier this year.
In one email exchange that was revealed in the newly discovered court documents, a Backpage employee is actually shown to be restoring ads that had been deleted by the Phillippines-based contractor, Avion BPO.
“I was reviewing deleted ads,” a Backpage employee wrote to Avion. “Here are a few removals that I restored. Some only needed pics removed,” indicating that Backpage reposted ads that Avion agents had taken down.
“Backpage has been righteously indignant throughout our investigation,” Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), a subcommittee member, “about how we were infringing on their constitutional rights, because they were a mere passthrough,” told the Washington Post.
“But that's nothing compared to this” new information, McCaskill said of the newly discovered documents. “This is about as far from passive as you can get. This is soliciting . . . So I hope this opens the floodgates of liability for Backpage. Nobody deserves it more.”
Backpage general counsel Liz McDougall declined to comment after seeing the documents uncovered by the Washington Post.
Earlier this year, the damning bipartisan Senate subcommittee report led Backpage to shut its adult section. In the process, it put a red banner headline over its adult listings with the word “CENSORED” and release a statement that it had removed the section “as the direct result of unconstitutional government censorship.”
But more recently, law-enforcement authorities and advocacy groups have said prostitutes haven't disappeared from Backpage, but rather moved to a new location — the dating section of the site.
More than 93 percent of Backpage's ad revenue in 2011 came from its adult section, whose ads have included postings for sex with underage girls and boys, according to the January Senate report. Backpage's gross revenue in 2014 was $135 million and is projected to be nearly $250 million by 2019, according to the report.
Backpage controlling shareholders Michael Lacey and James Larkin — who are the one-time Village Voice owners of the Village Voice — were arrested last October on felony charges of conspiracy to commit pimping. Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer was also arrested in Houston on Oct. 6 after getting off a plane from Amsterdam.
He, too, was named in a 10-count criminal complaint for pimping a minor, as well as the more serious charge of unlawfully pimping a girl whom he knew to be under 16 years of age.
New program for child victims of sex trafficking to opn this fall
by Janelle Polcyn
Law officers will have an alternative to criminalizing child sex trafficking victims when a drop-in center opens in October at the Roy Maas Youth Alternatives campus on West Avenue.
The non-profit has partnered with the Bexar County Juvenile Probation Department and several other agencies to provide a new program called Centro Seguro. It will give minors a place to get a meal, take a shower or nap, and connect to resources throughout the city — and a case worker who can counsel them and walk with them out of prostitution when they are ready.
The juvenile probation department, which received the two-year, $877,491 federal grant, had already been working with the Alamo Area Coalition Against Trafficking for about three years to try to protect exploited minors. Officials realized they needed a place to bring the kids, said Lynne Wilkerson, the county's chief juvenile probation officer.
“We've built programs over the years to work with them rather than over-criminalizing them,” Wilkerson said. “This drop-in center provided a critical piece. They can walk in and walk out again until they are ready to get out of their situation.”
The nonprofit is finishing a new building to better house an existing program called The Bridge, which provides emergency housing for runaway and homeless youth. The old space will be renovated to become the drop-in shelter, Wilkerson said.
“We want to help children achieve positive change by emphasizing individual responsibility and connecting them with resources. It is the first of many steps to a permanent safe situation,” she said.
“Initially, we were thinking we were going to convert those beds to a larger counseling center,” Roy Maas CEO Bill Wilkinson said. “We are still going to have the larger family counseling because that, to us, is where we prevent people from even coming into the system, by solving family problems with intact families.”
Keeping child victims of sex trafficking out of the justice system is important because they are not the ones committing the crimes, he said.
“They'll be able to talk to someone right then and there when they walk in the door,” Wilkinson said. “They'll have a therapist and a case manager. We can connect them with other services that hopefully get them off the street and doing so without them having to engage the legal system.”
Only two other such centers exist in the nation. Roy Maas personnel will receive training from one of them, a program in Los Angeles.
The Bridge does receive some children from the sex trafficking industry but Wilkinson said they don't come in identifying themselves as such.
“It's very difficult to work with trafficked kids because they often don't see themselves as victims,” Wilkinson said. “Their pimps are often the first adults in their lives who've expressed any love for these kids, and respect, but then eventually they start abusing them through trafficking.”
According to a study by the Institute on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault at the University of Texas at Austin, there are more than 300,000 sex trafficking victims in Texas, 79,000 of them children. Wilkinson said a lot of child victims are runaways from foster care and “feel the system hasn't served them well.”
“We've always known that it's a problem,” he said. “I think folks are recognizing it's a little more universal than they might have thought. It's not just isolated to certain neighborhoods. … We are all trying to figure out; how does this work? What is the basket of services these kids need in order to extricate themselves?”
House passes sweeping overhaul of law to combat human trafficking
by Emma Kinery
The House on Wednesday approved a sweeping reauthorization of the nation's most comprehensive law to combat human trafficking, in a rare bipartisan vote.
The bill allocates $520 million over four years toward programs that aim to identify and aid victims of trafficking and prevent it from occurring.
The bill — called the Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act — was introduced by Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., who has written several anti-trafficking bills in the past, and Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif. It passed by voice vote with no recorded opposition.
Programs covered by the act include educating children on how to avoid traffickers and training certain employers such as airlines on how to identify potential victims of trafficking. The bill also calls for both domestic and international efforts to combat trafficking and to prevent the sale in the U.S. of goods made by forced labor.
The updated law puts a greater emphasis on prevention methods, a change applauded by David Abramowitz, managing director for Humanity United.
“Once a child or a woman is trafficked or exploited, the pain and suffering is so immense," Abramowitz told USA TODAY. "By putting prevention at the center of this struggle, we can prevent this suffering from happening in the first place.”
The National Human Trafficking Hotline received 26,727 calls in 2016 and 7,572 human trafficking cases were reported in the U.S. that year. The Department of Homeland Security says the majority of trafficking cases go undetected in the U.S. each year.
“Human trafficking is one of the fastest growing crimes in the world, it's a sinister enterprise that strikes at the very heart of our communities,” said Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., after the passage of the bill. “This is truly a national problem, and that means it's going to take a national effort to solve it.”
Over the past few weeks, the House has passed more than a dozen bills dealing with human trafficking, though the Frederick Douglass Act is the main bill that human rights activists have kept their eyes on. Speaking alongside Ryan, Smith said he was impressed with how seriously his colleagues were working to address the issue.
“I've been working on human trafficking since 1995,” Smith said. “Many people thought it was a solution in search of a problem. You'd say trafficking and their eyes would glaze over. This leadership … is making all the difference in the world — domestically and internationally – to mitigate this horror, this modern day slavery that disproportionately hurts women and children.”
The House also passed two other trafficking bills Wednesday. The Enhancing Detection of Human Trafficking Act, sponsored by Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Mich., would direct the secretary of Labor to train employees within the Department of Labor on how to identify human trafficking victims and assist law enforcement in identifying victims. The Empowering Law Enforcement to Fight Sex Trafficking Demand Act, sponsored by Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., would allow law enforcement to use Byrne JAG grants to fund anti-human-trafficking programs.
"My Administration is focused on ending the horrific practice of human trafficking, and the three bills the House of Representatives passed today are important steps forward," President Trump said in a White House statement. "I am hopeful that the Senate will take up and pass these three bills as soon as possible and I look forward to my continued work with the Congress on this important issue."
Catering company employing human trafficking survivors opens first cafe
by Glenn Mcentyre
Giving human trafficking survivors a pathway to a safe, healthy future is the mission of Freedom a la Cart.
The catering company started years ago in Columbus with just a food cart on the sidewalk. Now it is expanding and has opened its first-ever cafe.
The cafe sells baked goods and coffee, and provides a new opportunity for trafficking survivors to gain job skills and experience in a safe, supportive environment.
"When I started at Freedom I was homeless, living in a homeless shelter," said trafficking survivor Tawnya Dunaway. "I didn't have anything but the clothes on my back. I started out just doing small kitchen tasks part-time. I've been with the company for over two years now. I'm the full-time supervisor for the kitchen. It's given me the opportunity to stand on my own two feet. I'm fully self-sufficient. I have my own apartment, I have a car, value to my life, tons of self-worth, and a lot of responsibility."
"It's a business with a soul," said Kitchen Manager Vanessa Sakosky. "We're here and we're working for and with the girls. And we want them to succeed and go on and do great things, whether it's to continue to work with Freedom and grow in our company, or to go on and do whatever- some of them want to become social workers, we've got nurses. So we really are just trying to help them get to where they want to be."
You can visit Freedom a la Cart's new cafe inside Columbus Metropolitan Library's new Northside branch on High Street.
Click here for more information on Freedom's mission.
Shock as teens arrested for alleged sex assault that thousands watched on Facebook live
by Fox News
Three Mississippi teens are facing kidnapping and sexual assault charges in connection to a video that was recorded on Facebook Live and was watched by thousands, authorities said.
Authorities responded to a report of an assault at a Gulfport home late Tuesday. Authorities discovered the video that recorded the alleged sexual assault.
The video begins inside a bathroom with a man demanding oral sex from the woman. Others in the background also demand that the woman performs the sex act, The Clarion-Ledger reported. A female could be heard saying that the alleged victim could not leave until she performed the act.
She said: "She ain't going home” and that the woman is going to perform the sexual acts “until her throat swells up.”
Haleigh Alexis Hudson, 19, surrendered to police on charges of felony kidnapping and sexual assault. She is being held on $400,000 bond. Ezzie Johnson and Kadari Fabien Booker, both 17, were arrested on separate felony kidnapping and sexual assault charges, the Sun Herald reported.
Johnson recorded the alleged sexual and physical assault of a 23-year-old woman at Hudson's home and will be charged as an adult, Gulfport Police Chief Leonard Papania said in a news conference Wednesday.
Facebook user Tiffany Hailey told The Clarion-Ledger she watched the video in real-time on Facebook and shared a copy of it urging her friends to reach out to the woman who looked like she was in trouble.
"This is gut wrenchingly horrific," Hailey said. "It's really, really, bad."
The video has been removed from the social networking site, but had been shared more than 1,500 times and attained 84,000 views, according to the New York Post.
Papania said he expected the disturbing trend to continue.
“I wish people would look at just how warped our society has become,” he said. “We videotape pain and suffering, then we share it and we view it over and over. And I don't doubt this story will be dead in two days and everybody [will] move on to something else and you still have a victim of a crime.”
According to The Clarion-Ledger, the victim in the alleged assault has special needs. Papania said the claims will be investigated and said additional charges could come if the claims are substantiated.
Investigators believe Johnson and Hudson knew the victim prior to the incident.
Patriarchy Isn't Ready To Believe That Men Are Sexually Assaulted
by Munawar Hussain
The Reality Of Child Sexual Abuse In India
“None! None of the incidents do I remember from my childhood – I don't remember the circumcision ceremony, nor can I recollect the details of our house being gutted in a fire. What I remember is a surreal marshy land, broad daylight, a polythene bag containing crumbs of carrots, a tall hairy-chested man spitting phlegm into the posterior opening of my alimentary canal and trying to push his genital organ into me.”
“I think, I was of Hasan's age (when he was molested in “The Kite Runner”). I can vividly draw the details of my garments, my hair and the pain I endured throughout the ordeal. Flared bell bottom pants, a tattered shirt, oily hair. He offered me a bag of carrots, I got hold of it. The moment I clicked my foot away, he grabbed my shoulders, shoved me into an arid canal and started pulling my trousers. I didn't cry! I was too young to make any sense out of it, my reflexes didn't work.”
“It won't hurt! Like that doctor who is ready to drill a needle into your body says to give you false hope, he said to me.”
“He rubbed his organ against me for a while and then ordered me to not to tell anybody.”
“That person is still alive and I fear his sight more than that of God's.”
This dreadful incident has dominated Gulzar's life. Even though he is busy with studies these days, the disturbing episode still haunts him. Every nightmare is a manifestation of that horror.
A minor or a child can never display compliance in forced sexual activities – end of the debate! The perverted mindset of a sexual abuser manipulates and plays upon the innocence of a child and tries to satiate sexual thirst. Committing such a deplorable crime against a child who has just learnt to spell letters leaves long-lasting psychological effects on the child's memory.
While looking specifically at child sexual abuse survivors, the Indian government in 2007 found out that, of the surveyed children who reported experiencing severe sexual abuse (including rape or sodomy), 57.3% were boys and 42.7% were girls.
Incidents like this are common in boarding school hostels where sexual deprivation among boys can lead to more disastrous situations. Sexual assault at a tender age creates a deathless memory, which parasitises a healthy brain, thereby destabilising the normal course of life.
“Sexual abuse is also a secret crime, one that usually has no witness. Shame and secrecy keep a child from talking to siblings about the abuse, even if all the children in a family are being sexually abused. In contrast, if a child is physically or emotionally abused, the abuse is likely to occur in front of the other children in the family, at least some of the time. The physical and emotional abuse becomes part of the family's explicit history. Sexual abuse does not.” – Renee Fredrickson in Repressed Memories: A Journey to Recovery from Sexual Abuse
The Prevalence Of Male Rape In India
More recently, the Delhi-based Center for Civil Society found that approximately 18% of the adult Indian men surveyed reported being coerced or forced to have sex. Of those, 16% claimed a female perpetrator and 2% pointed fingers at a male perpetrator.
The perpetrators of this crime are convicted under section 377 of the IPC, India's recently reinstated anti-sodomy law. Unfortunately, this law doesn't consider ‘sodomy' as an actual act of rape, nor does it specify the difference between consensual and non-consensual sexual acts between two male adults.
Though the official data can be a bit conflicting, males in India do suffer from such heinous crimes and a lot of them remain unreported.
Should the word ‘rape' in news headlines always lead us to assume unlawful sexual activity by a man with a woman? What if a male sexually assaults a member of his gender – isn't that criminal? What if a man molests another man? And what if a boy is sodomised by another boy?
Or is our patriarchal system not ready to buy this truth: men too can be raped!
Men don't shed tears, let alone whine about such disgraceful events! Men are born strong, brave, and can't be hurt – this is what they have been told. Men don't cry either, do they?
How will a mother concede to the possibility that his son was just sexually assaulted when she has always taught him to be ‘like a man' and shun the practice of shedding tears on issues as grave as death itself? Let us not even talk about the probable reaction of the father here!
Even though the legal system has received complaints of rapes against women as a ‘new normal' over the past decades, a male rape survivor still can't vindicate his pain. He should bear it till his legs are in the grave! No one will believe him and the medical evaluation will declare it a farce. In fact, he can also be accused of perjury! Police will accuse him of false accusations! It will bring gloom and doom to his life.
He is a man and men don't complain – that too about rape, do they? Impossible!
How grave would this be for a man who discloses his identity as a rape survivor, that too in a society where men usually don't complain about ‘serious matters'? Will he be seen as a victim of the horrendous crime, or would this event simply be a blow to his ‘patriarchal identity'?
Men too are sexually assaulted. It's just that they aren't ready to let the world know about it. In fact, there are innumerable stories of rape survivors among men out there in the world. However, people reservedly carry its horrors because of the fear of reprisal, of being considered a lesser man, losing manhood and of being branded as effeminate! How will society look at him, when he has failed to protect himself?
The updated definition of United States Justice Department has made this crime a ‘gender neutral' crime: “The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.” In India, however, rape is still viewed as something which only a man can do to a woman.
The fact that male rape cases are not reported in India makes it easier to turn our back on these events. Does that mean that they are non-existent? The menace is still there – unreported and not talked about.
Preventing Child Sexual Abuse: RVA Starts the Conversation
by Nadiah Mohajir
(3 videos on site)
Child sexual abuse is a crime that occurs far too frequently. And unfortunately, these instances are often ignored or brushed under the table, particularly in Muslim communities. It is time to break the silence surrounding child sexual abuse, and to gain the tools necessary to both address the problem and facilitate healthy dialogue with our children.
We understand that this is not an easy task. Oftentimes, parents and caregivers may feel that they lack the knowledge or vocabulary to talk to children about such topics. That is why Rape Victim Advocates has created videos of support on starting the conversation on child sexual abuse. With topics ranging from body autonomy, to secrets and private parts, these videos highlight key ways for parents to initiate these conversations in a way that is safe, clear, and accurate.
Take a look at these videos below, and start the conversation with your family at home.
For more information on discussing child sexual abuse with your children, or to learn more about Rape Victim Advocates, click here.