National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse

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"News of the Week"  

June, 2018 - Week 3
MJ Goyings
Many thanks to our very own "MJ" Goyings, a resident of Ohio,
for her daily research that provides us with the news related material that appears on the LACP & NAASCA web sites.


School Cuts Off Valedictorian's Speech After She Tries To Discuss Her Sexual Assault

"They specifically told me not to mention how they handled my sexual assault case," Lulabel Seitz said.

by Alanna Vagianos

(Audio on site)

One high school student is refusing to be silenced by her high school administration.

Petaluma High School senior Lulabel Seitz was delivering her valedictorian speech during the school's June 2 graduation ceremony in Petaluma, California, when her microphone was abruptly muted.

Seitz, 17, said it was turned off by the school's administration because she attempted to talk about her experience of being sexually assaulted at school.

“Because the class of 2018 has demonstrated time and time again that we may be a new generation, but we are not too young to speak up, to dream and to create change. Which is why, even when some people on this campus, those same people ... ” Seitz said right before her mic was cut (around minute four in the video above).

Once she realized her mic had been muted, Seitz moved to the end of the stage where she attempted to continue her speech. Her classmates stood up and applauded in support, later chanting “Let her speak!”

The valedictorian moved in front of the podium and finished her speech before sitting down.

Seitz, who is headed to Stanford University in the fall, told The Press Democrat that she was sexually assaulted on school grounds by someone she knows. She said that school administrators did nothing despite her making a formal complaint.

She told CNN that school officials had warned her not to discuss her assault during her valedictorian speech, but she did it anyway.

“They just told me to not talk about it because it wouldn't help,” Seitz said.

The graduate told NPR , “They specifically told me not to mention how they handled my sexual assault case and other sexual assault cases in general.”

Petaluma High School principal David Stirrat told The Washington Post that Seitz and other students who spoke at graduation were warned to stick to their pre-approved speeches.

“If the school is providing the forum, then the school has the ability to have some control over the message,” assistant superintendent Dave Rose told The Press Democrat.

Seitz told NBC's Bay Area outlet that her attacker was not given any consequences for his alleged actions, and he was in attendance at graduation.

“That's just not fair to girls,” she added.

In a June 7 statement provided to local outlet KPIX , the Petaluma City School District responded to Seitz's claims that the school did not respond accordingly to her sexual assault allegations.

“We can say that when issues of sexual assault come to our attention, local law enforcement has initial jurisdiction and determines the course of action,” the statement reads. “If an alleged event happens off campus or on, we work to support our students with appropriate discipline, extensive counseling, and whatever measures we can take to protect our students while they are in our learning environment.”

Seitz posted her full and uncensored speech to YouTube after the graduation ceremony.

“The Petaluma High School administration infringed on my freedom of speech, and prevented a whole graduating class from having their message delivered,” she wrote on YouTube. “For weeks, they have threatened me against ‘speaking against them' in my speech. Sometimes we know what's right and have to do it despite the threats.”



New Reports Say Child Abuse Trending Down in L.A. County

by Fred Shuster

The number of children killed at the hands of a parent, relative or caregiver in Los Angeles County dipped to 14 in 2016, down from 18 the previous year, while suicides among kids and teens decreased by 39 percent, according to reports released Monday.

The reports on child abuse and child deaths also found that the number of children referred to authorities for suspected abuse or neglect decreased slightly in 2016, and automobile accidents remained the leading cause of child deaths that year.

As part of the reports, county officials recommended that family service agencies, prosecutors, dependency court and law enforcement begin tracking, recording and reporting data involving children and families impacted by domestic violence. Researchers also recommended that law enforcement share all domestic violence cases with the Department of Children and Family Services when children live in the home.

A history of domestic violence was prevalent in 64 percent of child fatality cases in 2016, said Deanne Tilton Durfee, executive director of the Inter-Agency Council on Child Abuse and Neglect, which complied the reports.

Still, Durfee said, child deaths at the hands of a relative or caregiver in the county were at "an all-time low," reflecting "an overall downward trend."

Meanwhile, the reports noted that unsafe infant sleep practices--including bed sharing--or otherwise unsafe environments accounted for about half of all undetermined child deaths. Unfortunately, after a recent decline, the number of these child deaths increased to 47 in 2016 from 24 in the previous year.

Bed sharing is "an extremely dangerous practice," said Dr. Clayton Kazan, medical director of the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

The suicide rate among those under 18 reversed the upward trend seen in 2015 when 23 youth took their own lives. That number declined by 39 percent in 2016 with 14 such deaths, the same number as the child abuse homicide tally.

Eight of the 14 suicides were among teens between 15 and 17 years old.

There was a slight dip in the number of children referred to DCFS, from 175,383 in 2015 to 168,830 in 2016.

Officials deemed the county's Safe Surrender Program -- instituted to eliminate abandoned infant deaths--a success, citing 159 safely handed-over infants since 2001, including nine in 2017.

New cases brought to Juvenile Dependency Court showed an increase from 2015, and the 13,631 children exiting the system in 2016 was a lesser tally than the number of those entering.

In 2016, a total of 4,999 cases relating to child abuse and neglect were submitted for filing consideration to the District Attorney's Office. Prosecutors filed charges in 2,441 of those cases, with nearly half of them felonies.

Officials said that despite some alarming figures, the county remained safe for children.

"L.A. County is one of the safest counties in the country to be a child," said Brandon Nichols, DCFS chief deputy director.

Nichols said the county's child protection system has changed "profoundly" in the wake of the 2013 killing of Gabriel Fernandez, an 8-year-old boy who was tortured and murdered by his mother and her boyfriend even after multiple visits from Los Angeles County social workers.

"I think of it every day--and it motivates us to do better," Nichols said, pointing to the hiring of 2,500 new social workers to address the surfeit of cases at the time of the boy's death.

He said new training procedures include simulations of family encounters to give social workers better methods to determine if hidden child abuse is taking place.

"Fewer children are dying today than when Gabriel died," Nichols said.



Maine Voices: Preventing child abuse, neglect will require all of us working together

The deaths of Kendall Chick, 4, and Marissa Kennedy, 10, were unbearably tragic-and entirely preventable.

by Lawrence R. Ricci

I am a board-certified child abuse pediatrician who has practiced child abuse pediatrics in Maine for the past 30 years. I have evaluated many thousands of children for abuse and neglect. During that time, I have unfortunately also seen many children die from abuse. For every child who dies in Maine (an average of two to three per year), at least 50 sustain potentially life-threatening injuries and several hundred sustain some form of harm. According to the fourth National Incidence Study on Child Abuse and Neglect, by the time children reach age 18, well more than half will have experienced some form of abuse or neglect.

The deaths of 4-year-old Kendall Chick and 10-year-old Marissa Kennedy were unbearably tragic, but more than that, they were preventable. Although the details of these two deaths are not available, I can say with absolute certainty from my three decades as a child abuse pediatrician and member of the Maine Child Death and Serious Injury Review Panel that these and other children who die or who are seriously injured from abuse and neglect should not have died, should not have sustained life-threatening injuries and should be alive and well today.

Child abuse pediatrics, a subspecialty of pediatrics, was formally recognized by the American Board of Pediatrics in 2006. Approximately 200 of us became board certified in 2009, and there are close to 400 board-certified child abuse pediatricians in the United States today.

We are not only experts in the diagnosis of all forms of abuse but also routinely participate in prevention, education and advocacy. Many of us are researchers, and most are clinicians who evaluate children every day. As illustrated in my recent book “What Happened in the Woodshed: The Secret Lives of Battered Children and a New Profession to Protect Them,” child abuse pediatricians have emerged as a new and important force for child welfare in the United States.

I laud the work of the Office of Child and Family Services, the Legislature's Government Oversight Committee and the Office of Program Evaluation and Governmental Accountability for reviewing these two deaths. I have always appreciated Gov. LePage's passion for protecting abused children. However, child safety VERSUS family preservation is the wrong terminology. The right terminology should be child safety AND family preservation. We know that children do better, all other things being equal, in their parents' care. But they do not do better if they are not safe. And even if they're safe – whether with the family, in kinship care or in foster car – no child does well unless they and their caretakers receive appropriate supports.

The debate about criminalizing failure to report abuse may also miss the target. Mandatory reporters do not, for the most part, fail to report suspicion, but they do usually fail to even suspect abuse. Many missed cases of child abuse are missed because reporters fail to recognize suspicious injuries.

Ethan Henderson of Arundel died in 2012 at the age of 10 weeks because 15 individuals in five agencies failed to suspect abuse. If, at any point in his short life, one of those individuals had called us at Spurwink, we would have first told them to immediately report the injuries to child protective services, and then we would have hospitalized Ethan to assess him for further injury. We teach medical providers that if they are unsure whether to report, they should at least contact us for consultation and advice.

It perhaps needs repeating that the child welfare system in Maine is not just child protective services. It is all of us: medical providers, school personnel, law enforcement, day care providers, home visitors and, most important, neighbors and family members.

Child abuse is the greatest secret of all. It is a secret to family members, who may not see what's going on, to mandatory reporters, who may not understand what's going on, and to many others in our communities. Today in Maine we have an opportunity to work together to save the lives of children across our state as we seek to see and understand child abuse for all its complexity and tragedy.



Foundation Develops Mobile App to Tackle Child Abuse

by This Day Live

In a bid to tackle abuse of children and assist those who have been abused get help, the Jose Foundation, a non-governmental organisation, has developed a mobile application for children.

The Country Representative of the Foundation, Mrs Eunice Pius, said that the application, “CSE App”, enables children who are sexually exploited to report and get help.

Pius made this known at a workshop titled “Elimination of Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) in Nigeria” organised by the foundation in Abuja.

She explained that there is a challenge of not reporting cases of child sexual abuse by families of victims for cultural or social reasons.

According to her, the foundation intends to end child sexual abuse in the country by 2030.

She said every six out of 10 girls have been abused, adding that the foundation was out to fight child sexual abuse and ensure that victims get justice against predators.

She also said that in some reported cases, families of victims drop charges against offenders when offered money.

“We face some challenges which is largely as a result of poverty, families of victims drop charges when they are offered money.

“We are trying to make sure we put every machinery in place by involving the police and the Ministry of Justice to ensure that anyone guilty of child molestation, does not go free.

“Our children are so precious to us, we do not want them molested for it has psychological, physiological and intellectual effect on them; as victims life never remain the same,” she said.

Pius called on Nigerians to support the foundation in the fight against child molestation especially in the war torn North-east region.

She stressed the need for all stakeholders to speak out and defend children, adding that success could only be achieved through effective synergy.

Pius said that the foundation was collaborating with agencies saddled with the responsibility of addressing extreme poverty to ensure better life for children.

She said that the collaboration was necessary as most victims were from very poor homes with little or nothing to live on.

Foreign experts, she said, have been invited to the workshop to join forces with local ones to do justice to the matter.

The official said that the foundation intends to train government officials, especially the police, on ways to stop child exploitation.

Earlier, the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Senator Aisha Alhassan, said that the federal government was evolving new strategies to ensure safe schools in the country.

Represented by the Director of Social Welfare in the ministry, Ms Tope Gbangboye, Alhassan said a multi sectoral approach was being adopted for safety of children in the country.

“The Federal Government of Nigeria is evolving new strategy of multi sectoral collaborations to guarantee safe schools in the North-east and the entire country to ensure that no child remains in captivity.

“Children constituted 60 per cent of the country's population and they were key for sustainable development.

“The federal government through the ministry, in collaboration with partners remain committed to the coordination of emergency responses.

“The inauguration of the Joint National Task Force for the prevention of violence against children in Nigeria is a reflection of government's commitment.

“Government will ensure the training of juvenile police officers with the view to enhancing their capacity to prevent child sexual abuse.

“The capacity of officers for better interpretation of laws as regards to detention, investigation and prosecution of culprits is being built,'' she added.

Alhassan canvassed international support for law enforcement agencies and urged officers to ensure that victims get adequate support and protection during investigation and prosecution of crimes.

The minister commended the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for scaling up actions to eliminate the use of the mass media technology to either facilitate or commit child sexual exploitation.

She urged the foundation to continue in its commitment to the elimination of child sexual abuse and not relent in scaling up inter sectoral cooperation to stamp out the menace.(NAN)



Report on Pennsylvania Roman Catholic priest sexual abuse to be most extensive yet

by Claudia Lauer

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The results of a lengthy probe into the handling of sexual abuse claims by Roman Catholic dioceses throughout Pennsylvania, which victim advocates say will be the biggest and most exhaustive ever by a U.S. state, could be made public within weeks.

A statewide grand jury spent nearly two years looking into the abuse scandal, and Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro has said he plans to address the panel's findings by the end of June.


The grand jury investigated six of the state's eight dioceses, which collectively minister to more than 1.7 million Catholics. The report is expected to reveal details of widespread abuse and efforts to conceal and protect abusive priests.

A judge's ruling last week gave the first real details of an investigation that started in July 2016. Judge Norman Krumenacker rejected an effort to delay the report's release or allow people named in the report to challenge parts of it before its release.

Krumenacker, a Cambria County judge who has been overseeing the grand jury, wrote in his opinion that the investigative body had heard from dozens of witnesses and reviewed over half a million pages of internal documents from diocesan archives. The investigation involved allegations of child sexual abuse, failure of church structures to report it to law enforcement and obstruction of justice by people "associated with the Roman Catholic Church, local public officials and community leaders," he said.

The report could be groundbreaking, said Terry McKiernan, president of Several smaller states, including Maine and New Hampshire— each with one diocese that covers the full state — have issued reports, but no state the size of Pennsylvania has conducted a full accounting, he said.

"You're going to learn a lot about this crisis that you never knew before," he said. "Another thing you are going to see in a report of this geographic scope is an accounting of the geographic solution, meaning within the Pennsylvania dioceses there is a certain amount of mobility, and priests who have trouble in one diocese might be transferred to another within the state. There hopefully will be some accounting of that."

Two priests have been arrested on child sexual abuse charges as a result of the probe, one each in the Erie and Greensburg dioceses. Prosecutors have said one of those priests assaulted a boy more than 20 times as he was serving as an altar boy and would later require the boy to confess the abuse to him.

The overall investigation involves the dioceses of Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Scranton.


It is unclear whether there will be any other charges filed as a result of the report, because of Pennsylvania's statute of limitations on child sexual abuse crimes.

Under state law, criminal charges can be filed up to the time the person making the claim of child sexual abuse is 50 years old. Civil claims can be filed for child sexual abuse until the person alleging the abuse turns 30.

Previously release grand jury reports on the other two Pennsylvania dioceses — Philadelphia and Altoona-Johnstown— advocated a two-year window to allow people alleging long-ago abuse to pursue civil claims. Efforts to pass that legislation have stalled or been blocked.

Rep. Mark Rozzi, who put forward the legislation, said he testified about his own experience of abuse at the hands of a priest in the Allentown diocese. Rozzi said he plans to reintroduce legislation to extend the statute of limitations. The church has said changing the statute of limitations would be unfair to schools and parishes and could be financially crippling.


In 2005, the Philadelphia district attorney's office released a scathing grand jury report that said allegations against more than 100 priests and other clergy had been looked into by the panel. The report criticized internal practices of moving priests and not reporting allegations to law enforcement.

In 2011, the office released another report, having instructed a second grand jury to examine whether the diocese had changed its practices. The investigation resulted in several priests and members of the clergy being charged with crimes related to child sexual abuse, including Monsignor William Lynn, who was charged with endangering children for allegedly moving priests from parish to parish instead of removing them or reporting allegations to police.

In 2016, the Pennsylvania attorney general's office released the results of a statewide investigative grand jury in the Altoona-Johnstown diocese, the state's least populated. It detailed allegations of abuse against more than 50 priests and others in the church by hundreds of children over decades. The report noted the process by which bishops were told to keep secret the allegations of abuse by priests.

Once that first statewide grand jury report was released, Rozzi said, the attorney general's office was overrun with phone calls from people alleging abuse by clergy or by teachers at religious schools.

"We demanded that they look into the remaining dioceses at this point. If you think it's going on here and here, then you know. ... It's happening in the remaining dioceses," he said.



Who are we to violate children's rights?

Children march to be heard.

by Grace Pelo

Pupils of Monica Lolwane Educare Centre in Protea North held a march on International Children's Day to bring awareness to the need to end abuses against children.

The march took place with the assistance of SAPS' child protection unit and JMPD from Monica Lolwane Educare Centre to Protea Point shopping complex. The children had a mini memorandum which stated the need for violence and the trafficking of children to stop.

The Educare centre's principal, Refiloe Gabahlole, noted how society has normalised violence: “We wanted to raise awareness against violence against children and their trafficking. The way our society is that things that aren't normal now seem normal, it's something people have learned to live with,” she said.

She further explained the long-lasting impact abuse can have on children, “We forget that abuse has long-lasting effects on the child's life, it makes the child's confidence low in an unbelievable way even when they have grown and their performance at school also drops.”

Statistics recently revealed in Parliament state that 41% of rape cases reported during the 2015-2018 period involved children and that over 2600 children were murdered within the same period. These alarming statistics show the need to rethink our child protection strategies if there are any in place.

A parent at the Educare centre, Nomthandazo Mncube, noted that our problem as a society we have moved away from the principles of Ubuntu.

“I think we should go back to the principle of ‘my child is your child and your child is mine', I think from that we can begin to stop abuse against children.”

Lucky Maseko, chairperson of the Parents Service Committee (PSC) at Monica Lolwane Educare Centre, says the overall message of the march was for society to stand up and stop anything that has to do with abuse.

Maseko said it was important for the community to come together and assist the police in tackling violence against children and crime as a whole.

“It's impossible for police officers to be everywhere and to have two police officers attending to one person, this shows that the police need our help because they don't have the resources,” he reiterated.


Washington D.C.

Over 2,300 suspected sex offenders arrested in nationwide operation

by Valerie Bonk

WASHINGTON — More than 2,300 suspected online child sex offenders were arrested during a three-month nationwide operation conducted by the Internet Crimes Against Children task forces , the Justice Department announced Tuesday.

The task forces identified 195 offenders who either produced child pornography or committed child sexual abuse, as well as 383 children who suffered recent, ongoing or historical sexual abuse or who were used in the production of child pornography, according to a DOJ statement.

The 61 ICAC task forces — located in all 50 states and comprising more than 4,500 federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies — led the operation known as “Broken Heart” during March, April, and May.

The task forces investigated more than 25,200 complaints of technology-facilitated crimes against children and delivered more than 3,700 presentations on internet safety to over 390,000 youth and adults.

“No child should ever have to endure sexual abuse,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said. “And yet, in recent years, certain forms of modern technology have facilitated the spread of child pornography and created greater incentives for its production.”

The operation targeted suspects who:

•  produce, distribute, receive and possess child pornography;

•  engage in online enticement of children for sexual purposes;

•  engage in the sex trafficking of children; and

•  travel across state lines or to foreign countries and sexually abuse children.

To date, the task forces have reviewed more than 775,000 complaints of child exploitation, which resulted in the arrest of more than 83,000.

In addition, since the ICAC program's inception, more than 629,400 law enforcement officers, prosecutors and other professionals have been trained on techniques to investigate and prosecute ICAC-related cases.



Confronting Childhood Abuse as an Adult Writer

by Chris Goudreau

When Lisa Zarcone was 11 or 12 years old, she came home to find her home a hot 90 degrees and her mother smoking on the sofa. She turned down the thermostat and her mother attacked her with a meat tenderizer, violently hitting her more than 20 times. She had bruises on her back that lasted for more than a month.

Now, Zarcone, a 52-year-old Springfield resident, is the Massachusetts national ambassador for the National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse (NAASCA), a nonprofit that seeks to address childhood abuse and trauma and provide resources for intervention and recovery.

“I encourage people all the time to get help anywhere they can in a positive manner,” Zarcone said. “It starts by talking about it.”

She said the impacts of child abuse can manifest later in life as post traumatic stress disorder, mental illnesses as well as drug and alcohol addiction.

“As I became grown, married and having my own children, I started having these tremendous flashbacks and all that stuff that I suppressed and hid for so long; everything under the sun — shame, guilt … the pain of it. It was all seeping out with the nightmares,” Zarcone said. “I had to start to deal with it. It was very hard because I was juggling three young children and working and trying to deal with my mom who is mentally ill. I was always balancing between the past and present. For a while I thought I was losing my own mind.”

Her mother, Joanne, who passed away four years ago, suffered from bipolar disorder and a form of schizophrenia, which caused her to enter into sudden violent rages as well as depressive phases.

“I had to work really hard to seperate my mom from the illness and to see my mom as the real person and I love my mom … My mom and I as adults struggled with our relationship, but I did learn who the true Joanne was compared to my mom who was mentally ill. It took a lot of time to get there, but we did get there. My mom was a very kind hearted loving person. That was the true Joanne, but her illness unfortunately sucked her up whole.”

She first decided to speak openly about the physical and verbal child abuse inflicted upon her when she released her first book, a memoir called The Unspoken Truth in 2016. The book was written from the perspective of her childhood self.

“People come to me all the time and say that after reading my story they've gotten so much out of it,” Zarcone said. “It's helped them to raise their voice and start to heal and talk about their own personal issues … Some people are sharing for the first time ever. Now that's validation right there.”

It took her about six and a half years to write her memoir in which Zarcone returned to therapy as she returned to dark memories trying to write from the perspective of a child.

“I was about eight years old. I was always afraid. My house was unstable and I was a scared child. After my brother died, I was even more terrified because he was kind of my protector. My mom would come into my room at night and just stand next to my bed. Sometimes she would have scissors. Sometimes she would have a knife. And she would just stare at me. I would talk to her and she wouldn't respond,” Zarcone said.

As ambassador to NAASCA, Zarcone says she is able to advocate for adult survivors and provide resources and information to people who have suffered from child abuse.

“It's a great outlet for people who struggle, not only with child abuse and their past, but with mental health issues,” Zarcone said. “It all really connects together if you look at the big picture.”

For more information about Zarcone, you can visit her Twitter page at Her book is available at various locations in western Massachusetts.


Let's Tell It Like It Is: Sexual Abuse by a Cousin Is Incest

All abuse is traumatic and where one is in a trusting relationship it is even more devastating.

by Daniel Pollack and Toby G. Kleinman

Especially in the past few months, repugnant details have emerged concerning sexual improprieties by people at the highest levels of the political and entertainment worlds. We are no longer shy about public discussions involving pedophilia, clerical abuse or rape. Still, one area of sexual abuse remains secretive, private and unprosecuted – incest between family members other than a parent or a sibling. A number of studies regarding incest have been done. To our knowledge, none have specifically included cousins as perpetrators or victims.

Whether on a camping trip, in their bed, under a blanket or being babysat, an assault by a family member – an assumed primal protector – is especially traumatic. Generally, sexual relations are illegal between any person related by lineal consanguinity, or a brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew, or niece. In layperson's language “incest” means that sexual relations are forbidden between people classified as being too closely related to marry each other.

Around the world, the specific relationships defined as incest vary from culture to culture; in the United States, each state has its own law. In some states, first cousins are allowed to marry each other (e.g. California, Colorado, New York, New Jersey, Florida). In other states, marriage between first cousins is illegal (e.g. Oregon, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Montana, Nebraska).

There is a difference between an exploitative relationship versus teenage experimentation with each other between equal aged minors. When a teenager exploits and coerces a younger child in his family such as cousins engaging in any type of sexual behavior – even what they might call experimentation – that behavior is sexual abuse. The older cousin is abusing his protective role. Such abuse at the hands of someone who is considered family is devastating whether or not is it legally considered “incest.”

The exploited and abused cousin's reaction is not a product of formal education or conditioning. Evolutionary signposts in our DNA signal us that incest is wrong and hurtful. All abuse is traumatic and where one is in a trusting relationship it is even more devastating.

When one stranger abuses another we focus on the trauma of abuse. When a father abuses a daughter or son we call it abuse as well as incest. We give such abuse a unique name because incest is the ultimate taboo, even where it occurs between consenting adults. From a societal perspective, it is qualitatively different. When a family member commits exploitative abusive incest, it comes with a unique trauma because the harm is coming from someone who is a presumptive protector. Just because abuse is committed by a young family member, it should not be brushed off as mere childhood indiscretion. It is still abuse and causes trauma.

Various Abuses Passed Off As ‘Kissing Cousins'

Various abuses within a family where the discovery of a protector/victim is often passed off as “kissing cousins” or other non-criminal rationalization takes the blame off of the perpetrator and fails to recognize the full measure of the trauma to the young victim. Sadly, individuals who learn of this type of sexual abuse often do not want to report members of their own family to law enforcement or child protective authorities. It represents a failure in upbringing and parents may feel responsible. Particularly if the relationship is discovered across family lines neither family may want full disclosure.

Because none of the principals involved, including parents, children, juvenile authorities, prosecutors and/or judges, have readily available options, this crime can leave a victim without an advocate, and without future protection, and portends a future of anguish and guilt for the young victim.

While it is understandable that some adults may want to consider such ideas as child development, stages of sexual education of children, and the reality that at some point after puberty children show an interest in sex or sexual contact, there is no excuse for adults failing to acknowledge that young children simply cannot consent to a sexual relationship.

All of this raises difficult questions. Who and when do we talk with children about sex? Children are taught not to talk to strangers and that no one has the right to inappropriately touch them. Importantly, children must understand that this lesson applies to everyone, including family members, including cousins.

So many children are abused by a protector and don't report it because they care for or even love the abuser and they may feel guilt. As alluded to earlier, while there are states that allow cousins to marry, this does not address the problem of a purported protector taking advantage of a victim. Just because two teenagers are allowed to marry, this does not neutralize the fact that a child was sexually abused.

Most attorneys do not face this kind of case. However, occasionally someone will come forward to seek redress. Assuming there is no criminal prosecution, an attorney may seek 1) to prove abuse in a civil court, and 2) seek damages in a civil suit, holding the parents responsible for the misdeed of their older teenage child. The issue of accountability of a parent may vary from state to state. There are difficult proofs involved as it would be fraught with all of the pitfalls of any civil litigation. Critically, the young child may have to testify and there will be need for expert testimony. Questions will need to be addressed such as video/technological evidence and medical evidence. There may a double-edged sword as the parents of the injured minor may themselves be considered negligent and may be subject to an action against them where a young child was exposed to injury by another family member. Note also that the medical witnesses are mandated reporters, another litigation hurdle.

Abusive incest is not semantic. Sexual abuse has a nuanced language all its own and it's critical to changing behavior. Likewise, to name unspoken incest by younger persons is key to address how to deal with it. While some teenagers may engage in sex at some time, where do we draw the line between consensual sex and abuse of a protective relationship giving rise to an abuser and a victim? If it involves cousins, giving them the benefit of the doubt may really be giving them a license to abuse.

Daniel Pollack is a professor in the School of Social Work at Yeshiva University. He has been an expert witness in more than 25 states. Case subject matter includes child abuse and neglect, and abuse and wrongful death of children in foster care, residential care and day care.

Toby Kleinman a partner in the law firm of Adler & Kleinman. She has litigated domestic violence, child custody and abuse cases and has been a consultant in legal cases dealing with domestic violence and child abuse in over 45 states.



Boy Scouts Sued for Child Sexual Abuse in Arkansas


LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (News release) – A civil lawsuit was filed today in Pulaski County Circuit Court against the Boy Scouts of America for sexual abuse.

Today's suit – filed by former scout William Stevens – alleges that the Plaintiff was sexually abused by his Scoutmaster, Samuel C. Otts, first in Webelos Pack 13 and then in Troop 16, which met at the Salvation Army in Hot Springs.

The suit alleges that Otts sexually abused the plaintiff – including on at least six occasions between approximately 1979 and 1980 when Plaintiff was approximately 10 to 12-years-old. The alleged abuse occurred during Scouting-related meetings, events, outings, and over-night excursions in and around central Arkansas.

The lawsuit alleges claims for negligence and fraud against BSA. Specifically, the suit alleges that, before the plaintiff was abused, the Boy Scouts knew about Scoutmaster Otts' sexual abuse of other scouts. In fact, the lawsuit alleges that the Boy Scouts removed Otts from Scouting in Georgia for abusing boys, but then allowed him to register as a Scout Leader in Arkansas.

At the center of the victim's allegations is a secret file kept by the Boy Scouts of America on Otts. The “Perversion file” on Otts – created at the Scouts national headquarters in 1977 – was kept secret at the Boy Scouts' headquarters until it was ordered to be revealed by a Court in Oregon in 2012.

Attorneys say the secret file on Otts shows that when Otts arrived in Arkansas in 1977 after leaving Georgia, the Boy Scouts of America's headquarters approved his registration with three separate scout troops in the Hot Springs community – all while knowing that BSA had determined Otts should be “ineligible” to work with boys due to the sexual danger he posed to boys.

Upon his arrival in Arkansas, the suit alleges that the Scouts held Otts out to families of Scouts as a safe and trustworthy Scout Leader. According to the lawsuit, Otts manipulated that trust and used the Scouting program to isolate and abuse scouts in Arkansas. The suit also alleges that the Boy Scouts took intentional actions to misrepresent the safety of their program and to hide information about the problem of sexual abuse in Scouting.

“When the Scouts caught this pedophile scout leader in Georgia, they did not call the police. Instead, similar to the Catholic Church transferring pedophile priests from one parish to another, the Scouts allowed this Scoutmaster to transfer. And not only did they allow Otts to transfer and work with more kids after the Scouts knew about his crimes, they did nothing to warn the parents and scouts in his new Arkansas troop about the danger he posed,” said Peter Janci, one of the attorneys for the Plaintiff.

Attorneys say the situation involving Otts is one example of what they call a historical problem of tens of thousands of adult Scout Leaders sexually abusing children.

According to a news release from attorneys, the Boy Scouts of America began keeping secret files on pedophiles (called the “Perversion Files” or “Ineligible Volunteer Files”) soon after the organization formed in 1910. By January of 1935, BSA had accumulated approximately 1,000 pedophile files. In the decades between 1920 and 1980 (the time of the plaintiff's abuse), BSA continued to receive thousands of reports to their national office that Scout Leaders were using their positions of trust to groom and sexually abuse boys in connection with Scout trips, events and activities. During much of this period, the Scouts were receiving at least one or two reports each week about sexual abuse by Scout Leaders.

Attorneys say from these thousands of prior reports, BSA knew the ways in which Scoutmasters used their positions to sexually exploit scouts. BSA knew that those who abused scouts often had multiple victims and that abusive Scout Leaders who were caught and removed often tried over and over again to get back into Scouting (including with different troops and in different areas of the country).

“BSA had seen thousands of similar incidents play out. They knew this man had previously sexually abused boys in Georgia and they consciously chose to allow him to take groups of Arkansas boys alone, into the woods. They had to have known this would happen,” said Josh Gillispie, one of the attorneys for the Plaintiff.

Attorney's say those secret files were maintained under lock and key at the Boy Scouts of America headquarters. Over the decades, more than ten thousand similar files were created by the Boy Scouts. However, Boy Scout officials have admitted in sworn testimony that the organization destroyed thousands of its files over the years.

In many instances, according to testimony from Boy Scouts executives, the Boy Scouts of America did not report the allegations of child sexual abuse to law enforcement. Attorneys at Crew Janci were part of the legal team that won the first major release of a large portion of the Boy Scouts' secret files on pedophile Scout Leaders (those existing files that were created between 1965-1985). The files are publicly available on the Crew Janci LLP website. Today's lawsuit is believed to be the first lawsuit for sexual abuse filed against BSA in Arkansas since the secret ‘Perversion' files were released in 2012.

“The Boy Scouts would like the public to believe that the Perversion Files system was designed solely to protect boys in Scouting. But a review of those files reveals a century-long record of secrecy and a lax response to its pedophile problem. The documents show that BSA has historically put its reputation ahead of the safety of children,” said Peter Janci, one of the attorneys for the Plaintiff.

Attorneys say that although some of the suspected pedophiles reported to the Boy Scouts of America were excluded from volunteering, some Scout Leaders accused of child sexual abuse were still allowed to continue as Scout Leaders under a secret internal BSA policy called “probation.” Parents and Scouts were not notified of the existence of the probation program.

In 2012, the Los Angeles Times and attorneys from Crew Janci LLP published online databases that together make available approximately 5,000 of the Perversion Files that were publicly released through child sexual abuse lawsuits against the BSA.

Today's lawsuit alleges that, as a result of BSA's negligence and fraud and the resulting abuse, the Plaintiff has suffered “severe and permanent emotional distress and mental anguish, physical manifestations of emotional distress, embarrassment, loss of self-esteem, humiliation, shame, and psychological injuries.”

The lawsuit goes on to allege that the Plaintiff “has incurred and will continue to incur expenses for medical and psychological treatment, therapy, and counseling; and, on information and belief, has incurred and will continue to incur loss of income and/or loss of earning capacity.”

“This isn't over for our client; it still haunts him today and the emotional scars will be with him throughout his life,” said Josh Gillispie, one of the attorneys for the Plaintiff.

The Los Angeles Times database lists 14 separate Arkansas Perversion Files created by the Scouts between 1991 and 2003 that BSA has refused to make public.

“Even today, the Boy Scouts policy is to keep these ‘Perversion files about child sexual abuse by Scoutmasters a secret -- locked away in their headquarters. Those files contain information about individuals who are still in Arkansas; some are probably still involved with children. Parents deserve that information, so they can take steps to protect their children – but the Boy Scouts refuse to disclose that information,” said Peter Janci, one of the attorneys for the Plaintiff.

The Plaintiff in today's lawsuit only recently learned about BSA's role in causing his abuse -- and their subsequent decades of keeping the information hidden.

“Our client never imagined that BSA knew about his perpetrator's prior abuse of boys and knowingly and secretly chose to allow him to have access to boys in Arkansas as a Scoutmaster in three different scout troops,” said Josh Gillispie, one of the attorneys for the Plaintiff.

Attorneys for the plaintiff acknowledged that defendants often argue that claims from decades ago are barred by the statute of limitations. However, attorneys for the victim in today's case say they are confident that this claim is timely because of the Boy Scouts' alleged intentional actions to hide the truth.

“We are confident that Arkansas law allows this claim to be brought. We have alleged fraud – that the Boy Scouts allowed this abuse to happen and then intentionally kept all of the evidence about their misconduct hidden away for decades in secret files kept under lock and key in their headquarters. The law in Arkansas in this types of situations is simple: you can't run out the clock by hiding your misconduct. If you hide the evidence that you did something wrong, the time for the victim to take action is paused until they learn about it,” said Josh Gillispie, one of the attorneys for the Plaintiff. “We fully anticipate the Court in this case to reject any timeliness arguments in this case in light of the Boy Scouts' intentional acts to conceal their misconduct.”

“Our client only discovered the Boy Scouts' misconduct and fraud after we forced the Scouts through litigation to reveal a large portion of their secret files. Only when our client learned about these files and happened to check on them was he finally able to discover that the Boy Scouts allowed this Scoutmaster to abuse him,” said Peter Janci, one of the attorneys for the Plaintiff.

The plaintiff in today's lawsuit is represented by Josh Gillispie of Green & Gillispie , Attorneys at Law. Based in North Little Rock, Arkansas, Green & Gillispie is an established advocate for victims of sexual abuse in Arkansas. Over the years Josh Gillispie has devoted a great deal of his practice to litigating on behalf of sexual abuse victims against their abusers and also against organizations and corporations who enable these abusers.

Also representing the plaintiff in today's lawsuit are attorneys Peter Janci and Stephen Crew of Crew Janci LLP. Based in Portland, Oregon, Crew Janci law firm is well-known for their litigation on behalf of victims of sexual abuse around the country, including cases against the Boy Scouts of America.

Attorneys at Crew Janci LLP have represented nearly 100 victims of sexual abuse in cases against the Boy Scouts of America around the country (with the assistance of local attorneys), including in: Arizona, California, Florida, Idaho, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, and Washington. In Oregon, the Crew Janci firm has represented dozens of victims of sexual abuse in Scouting. Attorneys from Crew Janci were also part of the Plaintiff's trial team in the 2010 case of Kerry Lewis v. Boy Scouts of America, which resulted in a $19.9 million verdict for the victim.

Click here to read the filed complaint document.

Anyone with information about Scoutmaster Otts or abuse in Scouting in Arkansas is asked to contact the victim's attorneys at 1-888-407-0224.

We have reached out to the Boy Scouts of America Quapaw Area Council in Little Rock for a comment, and we are still waiting for a response.



DA: Girl, 4, abducted and sexually assaulted; tells police "A monster took me"

by 6ABC

AVONDALE, Pa. (WPVI) -- A little girl was abducted from her home in the middle of the night and sexually assaulted by a stranger, the Chester County district attorney's office said.

The suspect is identified as 35-year-old Humberto Guzman-Garcia, who has a last known address in the 300 block of Lake Road in Avondale.

According to District Attorney Tom Hogan, Guzman-Garcia randomly knocked on the front door of the victim's Avondale apartment around 3:30 a.m. on Sunday, June 10.

The child opened the door slightly and detectives say Guzman-Garcia allegedly flipped the upper latch and snatched the child as her parents slept.

However, her parents soon noticed she was not in her bedroom and her father went outside to look for her, only to find his daughter being sexually assaulted behind a shed, Hogan said.

The child reportedly told investigators, "A monster took me."

Guzman-Garcia ran away but he was allegedly found hiding out in an abandoned car and was positively identified by the father.

The suspect is a complete stranger to the family, Hogan said. Investigators say he admitted to the abduction and assault.

"This crime is every parent's nightmare. A monster comes out of the night, abducts your child, and sexually assaults her. This is proof that evil exists in this world," Hogan said.

Dawn Clark, who lives in the apartment complex, said Guzman-Garcia knocked on her door about two hours earlier.

"About one o'clock he was messing with the door handle to my apartment, and I happened to look out the peephole and I seen him," said Clark. "You could see he was drunk, and he just left."

Guzman-Garcia has been charged with kidnapping, aggravated indecent assault, attempted rape, and related charges.

He was arrested, failed to post bail, and was remanded to Chester County Prison.

Due to the nature of the crime, investigators are worried there are more victims out there. Anyone with information is asked to contact Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Stefano Gallina at (610) 268-2022.



Tougher laws on child sexual abuse won't be ready for months

by David Crowe

A national regime to punish child sexual abuse is being delayed by differences over new criminal laws as federal and state governments discuss whether to scrap legal protections for religious confession.

The negotiations are set to drag on until the end of the year in a bid to “harmonise” new criminal sanctions against those who fail to protect children from abuse and those who fail to report abuse they should have suspected.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Wednesday declared child safety should “always be put first” in questions over the seal of confession, as he named October 22 as the date for a national apology to survivors of child sexual abuse.

In a formal response to the royal commission into decades of abuse, Mr Turnbull outlined measures including a new federal office of child safety to start on July 1, the same time the government will start a national redress scheme for survivors.

Mr Turnbull confirmed the Western Australian government had signed up to the redress scheme, which now covers 90 per cent of survivors.

But an agreement on criminal sanctions remains to be finalised over the months ahead and is not expected until federal and state ministers meet at the end of the year, one year after the royal commission handed down its findings.

The Commonwealth "noted" rather than endorsed 18 recommendations from the commission that require state cooperation as well as federal action to create national laws.

State governments are expected to issue their formal responses to the royal commission over the next week, but the full response will require a national agreement between Attorney-General Christian Porter and his state and territory counterparts when they meet at the end of the year.

Blue Knot Foundation president Cathy Kezelman welcomed the Turnbull government's response, singling out a new federal taskforce to make sure action was being taken on the royal commission's findings.

“Obviously there's a process that has to be gone through with state and territory governments to progress the outstanding items, such as mandatory reporting by clergy including from within the seal of the confessional,” Dr Kezelman said.

“We're calling for a similar collaborative co-ordinated response to implement and enact all recommendations without delay.

“The longer we wait, the more children remain at risk and the more survivors struggle for support and justice.”

The royal commission recommended a “failure to report” criminal offence if a person knew, suspected or should have suspected that an adult associated with an institution was or had engaged in child sexual abuse.

It also recommended a “failure to protect” offence if an adult knew there was a substantial risk that another adult associated with an institution would commit child sexual abuse.

The commission said the “failure to report” offence should include knowledge disclosed in religious confession.

Mr Porter and his counterparts failed to finalise any agreement on the treatment of church confessions at a meeting of the Council of Attorneys-General last week, with their communique saying “further work would be done” on the issue.

They are not due to meet again until the end of this year.

The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference welcomed the government response but did not accept the case for changing the law on evidence from a confession, saying "there has been no compelling evidence" for the legal abolition of the seal of confession.

Mr Porter said last Sunday his “personal instincts” were that the protection of children should take precedence over the seal of confession, a view also expressed by Mr Turnbull on Wednesday.

“The safety of children should always be put first,” Mr Turnbull said.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten took issue with a key feature of the redress scheme, which offers payments of up to $150,000 to each individual rather than the $200,000 recommended by the commission.

Social Services Minister Dan Tehan acknowledged the cap was lower than recommended by the commission but said the average payment would be $76,000 for each survivor, higher than the $65,000 in the commission's report.

NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman announced new laws last Wednesday including the "failure to report" and "failure to protect" offences as well as maximum life sentences for a strengthened criminal offence of persistent child sexual abuse. Other jurisdictions are yet to reveal their laws.

Mr Speakman said more work was needed on the treatment of religious confessional privilege.

“NSW remains of the view that the issue should be considered at a national level," he said.

The issue falls primarily under state and territory law, leaving it to each jurisdiction to amend criminal laws to act on the royal commission findings.

A federal response will be needed as well, however, given that Section 127 of the Uniform Evidence Act provides a protection to the confessional.

The Anglican church welcomed the progress on the redress scheme and the decision on a national apology, noting it had formally apologised in the past.

A spokesman said it was already mandatory for Anglican clergy and church workers in Melbourne to report child sexual abuse to the police under the church's code of conduct.



From victim to victor: Life after childhood sexual abuse

by Sue Ann Rybak

If you're an adult who experienced sexual abuse as a child, know that you are not alone. Every eight minutes, a child is sexually assaulted in the U.S., according to the United States Department of Human Health Services.

It's the reason a Philadelphia Police Officer assigned to Northwest Philadelphia decided to write about her personal experience. To protect her identity, she decided to write the book “The Shadow in My Eyes” under the pseudonym Deborah Rose. The book, which she co-authored with Charron Monaye, tells the horrific, shockingly true story of how at 12 years old, she was taken to Fairmount Park by a police officer and sexually assaulted.

The highly-decorated and respected perpetrator made it clear that if Deborah ever told, he would kill her family and her. For eight years, Rose endured unimaginable physical, sexual and mental abuse until she found the courage to tell.

Rose said she strongly believes that “no matter what you have been through, you're here for a reason.”

“If you're living and breathing, then you've already survived,” said the survivor of childhood sexual abuse. “We can't live for today if we're being consumed by our past. Our heartbeat is not voluntary – it's involuntary. We must continue to live for our purpose. I hope that my story – my experience and my strength – inspires, motivates, and heals someone.”

When Rose decided to share her story and write a book about her own personal experience, she told herself that she was a “victor” not a “victim” and it was time to start living life.

She said she wanted people to know that there is life after abuse.

“You don't have to be consumed by the tragedy that happened to you,” she said. “I used to ask ‘Why did this happen to me?' And now I say, ‘Why not you?' So, I can be the person who pulls someone else out of the fire. If you see someone else succeed who came out of that kind of abuse, it gives you unlimited opportunities that you could do the same. And that is the legacy I want to leave.”

When Rose first met her abuser, he was her mentor. He was her karate instructor and a close family friend.

“I would see him in his uniform all the time,” she said. “I thought I want to become a police officer just like him and do karate.”

In her book, Rose wrote that as a child, she admired the work the police did because their uniform made them “a target for abuse, assault and murder.”

She said she “found it to be an honor that a person would put on a uniform vowing to protect and serve even if it meant they would be a target.”

Rose recalled in her book how her abuser used to blame her for the rape. He told her repeatedly that while she was stretching in karate class, she “opened her legs up to him.”

“I was 10 years old when I first started his class, but for years I blamed me and drove myself crazy trying to figure out how I could have stretched differently,” she wrote. “I waited eight years to tell because of the imminent fear that he instilled in me as a child. I was petrified that he would kill my parents, hurt my brothers, and kill me like he promised.

“To this day, I thank God the jury could see the truth behind my tears and know that no child asked to be ‘made a woman' at 12 years old,” she wrote.

In the book, she recalled his words: “I will get rid of your bodies – I know how to do it without getting caught. No one will ever find you.”

But when her mentor became her abuser, Rose wrote, “my desire to become a cop did not change; my mission did.”

On June 29, 2009, she graduated from the Police Academy and fulfilled her dream of becoming a police officer, Rose said it was one of the proudest days of her life.

After saving herself from her abuser, a “bad” police officer, she said she was on “a mission to become the opposite of what I knew a police officer to be.”

As a police officer, she said she is careful never to abuse her power.

“I wear my badge with dignity and pride,” she said. “I uphold my oath, and I truly understand what it means to protect and serve. My fear took me to my purpose and for that I am grateful,” she said. “There are so many people in this world that are suffering in silence or don't know where to turn for help. I am here to tell you someone is listening.”

Rose recently began working with Northwest Victim Services, 6023 Germantown Ave. in Germantown, by speaking at many domestic violence events.

“If you need help on starting your journey to become free from bondage due to your victimization, come to Northwest Victim Services, they are the best certified to help,” she said. “All you have to do is speak out and stand up. We can stand together.”

Melany P. Nelson, executive director of Northwest Victim Services, said Rose's story gives victims courage to ask for help.

“Empowering and educating survivors and victims of domestic violence can change someone's world rapidly,” Nelson said.

If you are or were a victim of domestic violence and you need resources or therapy, please contact the Northwest Victim Services office at 215-438-4410 Ext. 101. Rose's book can be bought in print on amazon for $14.99 or downloaded on a Kindle for $3.99.



Up to 50,000 child abuse cases registered every year

by Swissinfo

Between 30,000 and 50,000 children who suffer abuse are registered by the child protection authorities in Switzerland every year, according to a study published on Wednesday.

The children required help because they had experienced physical or psychological violence, neglect, sexual abuse or had witnessed domestic violence.

The study by the Zurich-based UBS Optimus Foundationexternal link analysed the number of abuse cases, the types of welfare risks in Switzerland and the kinds of services provided by the various child protection organisations.

The foundation wrote in a press release that the high number of cases recorded should serve as a “wake-up call”.

The researchers surveyed a total of 423 Swiss child protection agencies, of which over 80% participated in the study.

The agencies included government-sponsored bodies such as the social protection programme for children and adults, hospitals, the police and victim aid services.

They found that 2%-3.3% of all children living in Switzerland are referred to a child protection agency every year, corresponding to 30,000 to 50,000 children annually.

'Tip of the iceberg'

The survey also showed that in 22.4% of the reported child abuse cases, the victims had experienced neglect. Some 20.2% involved physical abuse and 19.3% psychological abuse.

In 18.7% of cases, the children had witnessed domestic violence and a further 15.2% had suffered sexual abuse.

The study could only take into account those cases which had been reported to the authorities, and thus the figure was “likely just the tip of the iceberg”, wrote the foundation.

The researchers had also found that the services “did not always meet actual needs” and that they were not equally accessible to children across the different regions of the country.



Nearly 1,300 children sexually abused by school staff over past 20 years: report

by Sonja Puzic

More than 700 school employees committed or were alleged to have committed sexual offences against nearly 1,300 children over the last 20 years, according to a first-of-its kind study of child sexual abuse in Canada.

The report, released Thursday by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, identified 750 cases of sexual offences (or alleged offences) against "a minimum of 1,272 children" between 1997 and 2017.

The offences were carried out or allegedly carried out by 714 employees working in kindergarten to Grade 12 schools across Canada.

The majority of the offenders (86 per cent) were certified teachers, but other school employees charged with crimes also included educational assistants, student teachers, lunch monitors, volunteers, secretaries, custodians and school bus drivers, the report says.

Nearly 140 offenders had secondary occupations, such as sports coaches and tutors, which provided them even greater access to children, the report says.

Many of the offenders included in the study groomed their victims in order to build trust and spend time alone with them, according to the study. Those offenders manipulated their victims to reduce the likelihood of the child reporting the abuse, the report says.

The study also found that a lot of the grooming took place online or by electronic communication, such as text and email.

“School personnel have a privileged position of trust with children. When that trust is abused, that betrayal is extremely damaging to a child,” Noni Classen, Director of Education at the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, said in a news release.

She added that sexual abuse has “lifelong impacts” on the child victims, as evidenced by statements made in court.

“They were left feeling shame, anxiety and worthlessness, when they should have been enjoying childhood,” Classen said.

Among the study's findings:

•  87 per cent of the offenders were male

•  75 per cent of the child/student victims were female

•  55 per cent of the victims were sexually abused on school property (including field trip locations and school buses)

•  29 per cent of the victims were abused in the offender's car or residence

•  More than two-thirds of all victims were high school students

•  73 per cent of offenders identified in the study were charged with at least one criminal offence

•  Of the cases that went to trial, 70 per cent resulted in findings of guilt

The Canadian Centre for Child Protection calls the study's findings “unquestionably alarming” and offers a number of recommendations for change.

The recommendations include setting “appropriate boundaries” between adult school employees and students, such as making it clear that texting students or engaging with them on social media is inappropriate.

The report also recommends mandatory sexual abuse prevention training for educators, school personnel and students, as well as awareness education for parents.


New Jersey

11 Bills against child sex abuse advance after undercover NJEA vids

by Michael Symons

TRENTON — First came the Project Veritas hidden-camera videos in which local teachers' union leaders seemed to brush aside allegations of sexual abuse of children. Then came a legislative hearing. And now comes action – 11 bills advanced Thursday by a Senate committee.

The package endorsed by the Senate Education Committee, which would still need multiple approvals before becoming law, includes four bills that were already pending and seven written after the May 31 hearing.

Shelley Skinner, executive director of the Better Education Institute, thanked lawmakers for appreciating the urgency, noting there have been two more cases of teachers accused of sexual abuse just in the last two weeks since the Senate hearing.

“We really need to create a culture and climate where children and adults alike feel like it's safe to report abuse,” Skinner said.

Here's the list of bills and their summaries:

•  S408: Directs school districts to establish policies and require training for employees on issues regarding child sexual abuse.

•  S641: Requires that sexual abuse against a child be reported to law enforcement officials.

•  S1129: Requires certain employees and candidates for public school employment or service and youth camp employees to undergo child abuse record information check.

•  S2489: Requires board of education to post information about child abuse hotline in each school.

•  S2707: Establishes task force within DOE on prevention of sexual abuse of children.

•  S2709: Provides that certain persons who commit act of sexual penetration or sexual contact with students who are 16 or older are guilty of sexual assault or aggravated criminal sexual contact.

•  S2711: Mandates child abuse and sexual abuse training for all candidates for teaching certification.

•  S2712: Mandates sexual assault and child abuse training for DOE arbitrators.

•  S2713: Requires DOE to collect information on certain teacher misconduct and report to Legislature.

•  S2714: Requires districts to notify Board of Examiners when teaching staff member fails to report child abuse for determination of revocation or suspension of certificate.

•  S2715: Requires attorney general to develop protocol for retaining footage from school surveillance system.

Olga Starr, training and outreach coordinator for the New Jersey Children's Alliance, said that teachers, given the amount of time they spend with children, already identify and report more child abuse cases than any other profession.

“Yet studies show that two-thirds of teachers do not receive substantive training in preventing, recognizing or responding to child abuse,” Starr said.

Patricia Teffenhart, executive director of the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault, said even though the state has robust laws designed to protect against child sexual abuse, it can do more.

“The reality is that all of us, regardless of our profession, are products of a society that permits and promotes rape culture,” Teffenhart said. “We need increased training about ways to prevent, identify, respond to and report child sexual abuse.”

State Sen. Mike Doherty, R-Warren, said he's never met anyone who promotes rape culture and noted all the bills passed unanimously with “100 percent opposition” to sexual abuse.

“I just have to say I totally disagree with that statement. I think it's uncalled for,” Doherty said. “I think you need to be a little bit more selective in pointing out things like that. It's just unfortunate you had to bring that ugliness into this.”

Some of the bills are likely to be changed before they're approved.

For instance, new sexual assault and child abuse training for arbitrators should cover other types of bad conduct by teachers, too, said Jonathan Pushman, a legislative advocate for the New Jersey School Boards Association.

“There's an opportunity here to perhaps expand upon that, maybe broaden it so that they get some guidance and training on all matters regarding conduct unbecoming of employees,” said Pushman.

State Sen. Teresa Ruiz, D-Essex, who sponsored the existing teacher tenure law and chairs the Senate Education Committee, said she's open to the suggestion and asked Pushman to recommend language that can be added to the bill.

Teachers' union leaders didn't testify at the Thursday hearing.



Study: Sexual abuse cases of 20,000 M'sian children were hidden by BN govt for 10 years

by Tara Thiagarajan

Child sexual abuse is a very serious and prevalent problem affecting countries all over the world. Despite widespread efforts to spread awareness and campaign for better laws, there still aren't enough policies that effectively protect these vulnerable young children.

What's even worse is when a country's government does not acknowledge reports and statistics about this serious issue – how can a nation progress and better protect their children this way?

In an interview with The Malaysian Insight, Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail shared that she was deeply affected after learning about the lack of policies protecting children in Malaysia from sexual abuse.

She told the daily,

“These are things considered taboo to be discussed, yet, we must get this out in the open. If you see tell-tale signs, you cannot turn a blind eye. That message must get across strongly – save the children.”

Wan Azizah, who is also the Minister of Women, Family, and Community Development, revealed that she had recently learnt about a shocking study which found a whopping 20,000 sexual abuse cases involving children in the country. Perhaps the most disturbing finding was that a good number of the sexual offenders were often adults close to the children (i.e., family members and religious teachers).

Currently, DPM Wan Azizah is working on getting this document declassified and has told the daily that the police are investigating the report, saying,

“The victims would have grown up by now. We need an update.”

Indeed, Malaysia still has a long way to go when it comes to protecting vulnerable children. The most recent abuse case that shocked the world was that of Englishman Richard Huckle, who came to Malaysia posing as an English and Sunday school teacher.

He reportedly abused up to 200 young children aged between 6 months and 12 years on top of uploading 20,000 photographs and videos of himself doing these heinous acts onto the dark web. He had even written a 60-page “guide” for pedophiles.

Let's hope that more will be done to protect our children and ensure that they grow up in a safe and healthy environment under our new government.


United Kingdom

'Courageous' Women Face Gang That Sexually Abused Them Over 7 Years: They 'Would Not Be Silenced'

by Adam Carlson

Eight members of a U.K. child sex gang have been sentenced for their “routine, cynical” abuse of teenage girls — with one of the men serving up to life in prison — after their victims “bravely faced” them in court, PEOPLE confirms.

The men, ages 36 to 48, were each found guilty of at least one charge related to the sexual abuse of six teens in Oxford.

Prosecutors say the men “enticed the victims into a cycle of abuse,” between 1998 and 2005, when the victims were between 13 and 17.

The girls were first befriended and then sexually assaulted with the aid of a mixture of drugs and alcohol, grooming tactics, intimidation and threats, according to prosecutors.

“This case involved the routine, cynical and predatory sexual exploitation of six vulnerable young girls,” prosecutor Adrian Foster said in a statement in March, noting that the girls were “used, abused and exploited for the casual sexual gratification and entertainment of the defendants and others.”

Six of the men were found guilty of multiple charges and, in the most extreme case, 37-year-old Assad Hussain was convicted of five counts of rape, three counts of conspiracy to rape and two counts of indecent assault.

He was sentenced to life in prison, serving at least 12 years.

“These cases are, in effect, organized crime,” Foster said in a statement this week, “and we approached this case in the same way we would approach any organized crime case by making connections, and building an understanding of criminal networks.”




Oklahoma child abuse, neglect getting worse and entire system needs bolstering

by Ginnie Graham

It was hard for workers to erase a thank-you note left on a conference room wipe board at the Child Abuse Network .

Sisters were brought into the center late one night after authorities found they had endured horrific abuse and neglect.

In that room, they met with trained therapists, forensic interviewers and pediatricians, who then consulted with social workers and law enforcement. They recounted their personal nightmares and went through examinations.

Before they left, the girls left them a message on that board, typically used for boring office stuff.

“Thank you” was written at least six different ways and decorated with hearts, stars, flowers and happy faces. These are the doodles of any young girl feeling good and carefree.

When staff found that the next morning, it was the best, most reaffirming gift a professional working with abused and neglected children could receive.

They took photos to pull up on their phones during tough moments or to share with strangers trying to understand their difficult jobs.

“That's like a talisman,” said CAN Executive Director Anna America. “The thing that has surprised me more than anything else is how hope and resilience threads through. These kids have been through awful stuff, but they can turn that around. They can be saved.”

Oklahoma has been wrestling with bringing down child abuse and neglect for decades.

It's frustratingly not improved, and continuing to get worse.

In fiscal year 2017, more abuse and neglect cases were confirmed by the Oklahoma Department of Human Services in at least a decade. It reached a high of 15,289 children abused or neglected, compared to the decade low of 7,248 children in 2010.

The number of Tulsa County children who have been abused or neglected jumped 79 percent in the past 10 years . Those suffering abuse climbed by 89 percent, neglect by 90 percent and children experiencing both increased 20 percent.

Over the decades, Tulsa has developed a network of services to catch these vulnerable children.

Prevention is handled by the Parent Child Center, intervention at CAN and treatment/counseling by Family and Children's Services.

CAN serves as a hub for several entities handling the most severe abuse and neglect cases: police, DHS child welfare, physicians, prosecutors and mental health professionals.

At the center of this myriad of front-line workers, America sees how all are intertwined. If one group isn't supported, the system falters.

“We are in a situation where we have to bring everybody up together,” America said. “We can't just all of a sudden say, ‘CAN is going to start seeing more kids,' but then DHS, law enforcement, the district attorney and medical staff can't absorb that additional load.

“So we all rise together to meet that need. We need to let the rest of the community know it is not this very narrow focus of just a DHS worker getting a kid out of a house or an officer arresting someone. All of these pieces have to come together for that kid to have a good shot at being healthy and safe.”

Of the CAN agencies, DHS in particular has been under duress with intense public scrutiny and legislative cuts.

“Everybody there is overworked, under stress, under staffed and under resourced,” America said.

When CAN opened, officials anticipated seeing about 40 children each month. Now, between 40 and 45 children come in each week.

“We are serving the max,” said Rose Turner, the CAN managing director.

“I believe the severity of abuse and neglect is getting worse from what I've seen over the past 33 years. It's just gotten worse and more perverse and twisted.”

Trying to figure out the dismal abuse and neglect trend brings up a list of factors including financial strain, dysfunctional relationships, technology and substance abuse.

With technology, it's easier to reach and exploit vulnerable kids. In nearly all cases, kids have a link to the perpetrator, like a friend of a friend or someone they just met.

The insidious opioid epidemic along with methamphetamine use has taken a toll on families.

“Clearly the rise in the mental health and substance abuse issues and the decrease in the support systems are coming together in any and every social service area,” America said. “We're seeing bigger problems as a result.”

Cuts to in-home visitation services, after-school and summer programs, mental health services and other social supports take away part of the safety net for kids.

“It's easy to make someone care about that young child who was abused. But we need to understand that in most cases, that is part of a big system,” America said. “Remember that when we cut health care on a statewide level, that will probably means more kids are abused.

“All these things go together. We've got to support health care and basic service, especially for the most in-need families.”



Decades after they survived childhood sexual abuse in Boy Scouts, victims still seek justice in court

by Tommy Simmons

Eight years after the Idaho Supreme Court dismissed their claim for damages against the Boy Scouts of America, three victims of decades-old childhood sexual abuse are once again seeking justice through Idaho's legal system. To find it, they've launched a novel legal claim involving fraud. Attorneys debated it for hours in the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho Friday afternoon.

The six plaintiffs in a 2013 lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are identified in court proceedings and writings as “John Does.” All six of them say they were sexually abused by Boy Scout leaders in Idaho — many of them sponsored by the Mormon Church — between 1969 and 1983. But they aren't asking for damages from the church or the Boy Scouts of America under sexual abuse statutes.

Instead, they're suing those organizations for constructive fraud, claiming the groups' leadership knew about the sexual abuse at the time and still did not tell parents or the scouts themselves about the risks. It's not a defense usually leveled in sexual abuse cases, said Andrew Chasan, the plaintiffs' attorney. But it is the one he feels is viable after a crushing decision from the Idaho Supreme Court that three of his clients' initial claim couldn't proceed.

“It's a little cutting edge,” he said. “Because it's a little cutting edge, it's a little harder for a judge to rule on — and it's a little harder to argue.”

Chasan's clients filed their first claim for relief against the Boy Scouts of America in 2007. Back then, with a brand-new child sexual abuse statute on the books in Idaho eliminating the statute of limitations for such offenses, Chasan felt his clients had a good chance at winning compensation for the abuse they'd lived with for the entirety of their adult lives. The case traveled far, and he eventually argued it before the Idaho Supreme Court. In early 2010, though, that court ruled that because the abuse happened decades ago, the new law didn't apply retroactively.

Chasan wasn't ready to give up, though. Across the country, adults were beginning to speak out about sexual abuse they'd endured years ago as children in Boy Scouts. People even sought him out and asked if he could represent them on such cases.

“We've received countless inquiries over the years,” he said.

So he and his legal team looked at the evidence again. In 2013 they filed a new lawsuit, this time with more plaintiffs; six of them are still involved.

They've found what they believe is a good case for constructive fraud. That means they must prove the Boy Scouts of America and the Mormon Church committed fraud because they didn't tell scouts and families about the multiple cases of sexual abuse within the organization — cases, Chasan argued Friday, known to the groups' leadership. As evidence, Chasan pointed to the Boy Scouts of America's long list of “ineligible volunteers” — a file of the names of scout leaders who had abused scouts. The BSA has been loath to release those files, he said — he asked the group for the list in 2007 as part of the first case. In court Friday, he said he only received it in December, a full decade after his request.

Attorneys for both the Boy Scouts of America and the Mormon Church asked U.S. District Court Judge Lynn Winmill to dismiss the case. They filed 14 separate motions, Chasan said, and attorneys on Friday sparred over all of them in a four-hour hearing to determine if the case should move forward, sifting through everything from case law to arguments about statutes of limitations. At the end of the day, Winmill took the case under advisement and said he would issue a written ruling on whether the case should go to trial or not.

Chasan said he doesn't expect that to happen until July. Still, he said, he feels good about the case's chances in court. Winmill recognized a similar argument in a 2012 ruling in another case.

If the case moves forward, the trial is scheduled to take place in May 2019.

The 2017 Lawsuit

In 2017, Andy Chasan, the attorney representing the victims of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of their boy scout leaders, filed another case against the organization on behalf of eight new abuse clients. He said it's only a small fraction of the inquiries he's received. He understands why people wait to file lawsuits as well.

"Oftentimes it takes a very long time for people to feel comfortable and frankly to feel brave enough to come forward," he said.

He said attorneys will begin interviewing witnesses in that case this summer.


New York

Written in the sky: Sexual abuse survivor urges vote on child victims act

by Jaclyn Cangro

(Video on site)

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Just days remain in this year's legislative session. With numerous bills still up in the air, Kat Sullivan is taking her message to the sky.

A plane, carrying a banner with three hashtags, flew above the state Capitol on Friday. Sullivan is urging senators to vote in favor of the Child Victims Act.

"Children should be precious to the state of New York, and if those senators can't get the job done, there's a line of people waiting for those jobs," says Sullivan.

While Sullivan is looking forward, those in Albany are looking up -- and lawmakers are paying attention.

The Assembly has passed the Child Victims Act for the second year in a row. The bill calls for a longer statute of limitations, and a year look back, giving survivors of sexual abuse their day in court.

"We can't decide what was right or wrong, but at least people should have that opportunity," says Assemblywoman Pat Fahy.

So far, the CVA hasn't moved to the Republican-held senate floor.

About the bill, a GOP spokeswoman released a statement saying, "Any act of sexual abuse against a child is horrific, which is why year after year, the Senate Republican Majority proactively takes steps to protect children from predators and these measures simply die in the Assembly. The Majority is reviewing a number of bills that extend the age limit in which victims of child abuse can bring complaints."

Republican Senator Catharine Young has proposed legislation creating a fund for survivors. But Kat says it doesn't go far enough.

Sullivan has been vocal of the abuse she says she received as a student at Emma Willard School. After circling the Capitol, the plane flew over the Troy private school.

Spectrum News reached out to school officials for comment, but has not heard back.



Colorado public school are paying millions to settle lawsuits when educators fail to report sex abuse of students but those educators avoid legal consequences. This Denver Post investigation explains why.

The state's mandatory reporting law is poorly understood and selfom enforced

by Christopher N. Osher

The principal caught an incriminating sight when she walked by the classroom: The male math teacher was sitting provocatively close to the 13-year-old student perched on his desk wearing a short skirt. But the principal did nothing other than warn the teacher, after the student exited, to act more professionally.

Throughout the spring of 2011, rumors flew around the hallways at Rocky Heights Middle School in Highlands Ranch about the teacher, Richard “Rick” Johnson, and young girls. After Johnson plastered his office walls with photos of another eighth-grade girl he liked to hug, students talked about how he must be having sex with her. At least three students and two parents told school administrators that Johnson was cultivating an inappropriate relationship with the student, but the officials continued to sit on the information, according to documents in a federal lawsuit . Not until parents went to police was Johnson investigated, charged and convicted of raping a 14-year-old girl he began showering with affection the year before.

A key state law is supposed to defend Colorado's vulnerable children in such instances. The law classifies school authorities, teachers, clergy and more than 40 other professions as “mandatory reporters,” who are required to alert police or child-protection workers to any suspected physical or sexual abuse of children.

But, as was the case at Rocky Heights, the law is too often ignored.

An investigation by The Denver Post found that the mandatory reporting law is seldom enforced and often results in leniency for violators. Those convicted of the law face a penalty as low as a $50 fine. While criminal penalties have been light, legal proceedings have raised questions about how seriously school districts take their mandatory reporting obligations. At least three lawsuits accusing school authorities in Colorado of ignoring mandatory reporting requirements resulted in settlements, one of which cost $1.4 million.

“If a child tells you they have been harmed, sexually assaulted or raped, you should say it's not your fault and call the police, but instead we have some mandatory reporters who understand the law and how they can sweep it under the rug and deny justice for those who have been victimized,” state Sen. Rhonda Fields, a Democrat from Aurora, said this year at a legislative hearing in which she failed to persuade other legislators to join her effort to bolster Colorado's mandatory reporting law.

Since 2010, prosecutors have brought just 46 criminal cases of failing to act as a mandatory reporter, a review of state judicial data shows.

Only about half of those cases resulted in a conviction. And of those that did, virtually all of the convictions eventually were dismissed by a judge after the defendant served a short stint on probation.

The harshest penalties were handed out in 2015 to two Longmont church pastors — Walter Roberson and Robert Young — who were given the option of serving 10 days in lockup or doing work release. They were convicted in what prosecutors described as a coverup for failing to report allegations from a woman that she had been raped at the age of 14 by a youth pastor, who was the son of Roberson. Two other elders at the church received lesser sentences for their failures as mandatory reporters in that case.

More typical is what occurred when Colorado Springs police in 2011 discovered failures in mandatory reporting at the state-run Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind. Detectives were called to investigate after a 15-year-old student confessed to a school employee that he had sexually assaulted five students in the previous three years.

Police discovered the school's staff members had been alerted by some of the victims and their parents of the alleged sexual abuse, but those reports hadn't been forwarded to law enforcement, court records show. The shocked detectives also found significant confusion among school personnel about the mandatory reporting law. Several staffers said they hadn't alerted police because they thought they had an obligation to keep confidential the names of students accused of sexual acts because they were juveniles.

In the end, only the former principal, Louis Tutt, was charged with failure to report, but he never had to appear in court. His charges were dismissed because he had moved out of state.

In 2016, a $1.4 million settlement brought an end to lawsuits filed on behalf of two the five victims who alleged mandatory reporting failures at the Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind. One of the victims, who was 9 at the time and struggled with cerebral palsy, had been sexually assaulted in a school bathroom by the older student. The other victim, 15 at the time, was repeatedly sexually abused at school by the same assailant, including being forced to perform oral sex.

“Schools and school districts like the Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind go through training on mandatory reporting requirements, but when it comes time to act on it, it appears that oftentimes they want to do their own investigation instead of reporting it, or officials minimize what the person has reported,” said Steve Baity, one of the lawyers who filed the suit for the two blind victims.

How training is conducted for mandatory reporters throughout the state remains a concern for Stephanie Villafuerte, Colorado's child protection ombudsman, the state's watchdog for the child-protection system.

“What's interesting to me is that we have more than 40 different mandated reporters in Colorado and yet we don't mandate any training for those same reporters,” Villafuerte said.

A 2015 survey by the Colorado Department of Human Services, part of a campaign to increase public awareness about child abuse, found that 70 percent of mandatory reporters didn't even know that they were mandatory reporters. Of those that did, 30 percent of mandatory reporters did not know the proper steps to report child abuse or neglect. To properly report child abuse, child sex trafficking or neglect in Colorado there are three ways. The easiest is to call the Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect hotline 1-844-CO-4-KIDS (1-844-264-5437). Anyone can also call the local county human services department or law enforcement agency or 911 if you are witnessing a child in a life-threatening situation.

Villafuerte said mandatory reporters have called her office asking how they are supposed to handle alleged abuse between two juveniles. Such abuse must be reported, just like abuse between an adult and a juvenile, she said. In addition, the law holds individuals responsible for their reporting obligations, which means the obligations aren't satisfied merely by alerting supervisors. The law requires the individual to report their suspicions to law enforcement or child-protection services, she noted.

“You cannot pass on your obligation to report,” Villafuerte said.

The Colorado Education Department leaves it up to individual school districts to decide what training to give their personnel on the law — or whether to train them at all. And no surveys are conducted by state officials on how those districts are conducting that training.

Two recent cases have renewed questions about whether schools in Colorado are taking their mandatory reporting duties seriously enough.

Denver prosecutors in April filed criminal charges against Andy Mendelsberg, the former principal of East High School, for failure to report that a student had told school officials she had been raped by another student. Also charged with failure to report in that case were vice principal Jann Peterson, deans Jen Sculley and Eric Sinclair, and counselor Anita Curtiss.

Court documents allege that the East High girl became the target of relentless bullying from other students aware of her allegations. When the girl sought help from Sculley, the dean told her to move on and that “this is their little secret,” according to one police report. After the girl's parents decided to pull their child out of school, they met with Mendelsberg, who advised them to take care of the situation by keeping their daughter at the school and finding her a new group of friends, another police report states. The boy was charged with one count of sexual assault after the girl and her parents went to the police on their own.

Charges of failure to report also are pending against two Cherry Creek School District leaders –Prairie Middle School principal David Gonzales and assistant principal A.J. MacIntosh — for their conduct regarding allegations that a teacher raped a girl. Charging documents say administrators pressured the alleged victim, a teen, to recant her claim of sexual abuse by Brian Vasquez, a teacher at Prairie. Vasquez has now been charged with sexually assaulting five students.

Cherry Creek School District's policy manual has a statement on how to handle sexual harassment allegations that appears in at least one respect to be contrary to the law. The policy manual states: “In cases involving potential criminal conduct, a determination will be made as to whether appropriate law enforcement officials should be notified.” But the law requires mandatory reporters to alert police or child-protective workers of allegations of abuse no matter what school administrators determine. The child-protective workers or police — not school administrators — are the ones who determine the sufficiency of the evidence.

Defense lawyers in Cherry Creek reporting cases are seeking dismissal of the criminal charges, arguing the statute of limitations has passed. That dispute prompted Fields, the state legislator, to urge her colleagues at the Capitol to change the statute of limitations to five years instead of 18 months. Sen. Vicki Marble, a Fort Collins Republican, questioned during the debate whether the crime of failing to report ought to be raised to a felony. It currently is a misdemeanor, which carries a maximum penalty of six months' incarceration.

The Colorado Catholic Conference and the Colorado Education Association handily beat back Fields' effort.

In the Rocky Heights case, the principal at the time, Patricia Dierberger, and the assistant principal at the time, James McMurphy, instead of alerting police, disciplined the students who told them they thought Johnson was having sex with a student. Two of the students were suspended for “harassing” the teacher. Another was ordered to write a letter of apology to Johnson.

Yet the administrators never faced any criminal charges even though a Douglas County sheriff's investigator determined their inaction violated the mandatory reporting law. It wasn't until 2012 that the investigator learned from the parents that Johnson was preying on the girl, violations that eventually resulted in a 20-year prison sentence for Johnson. By then, the 18-month statute of limitations for bringing criminal charges for mandatory reporting law violations already had passed, which meant Dierberger and McMurphy could not be charged.

Cpl. Detective Dea Aragon, the sheriff's investigator, expressed frustration in a declaration submitted in a federal lawsuit filed on behalf of the girl Johnson raped. The sheriff's department had conducted “numerous investigations” of Douglas County School District employees for failing to report sexual abuse, Aragon said in the declaration. For years, the sheriff's office had been concerned about a culture in which school district employees had not “participated in adequate training regarding sexual abuse of children and did not understand or take seriously their responsibilities to report suspected sexual abuse,” the declaration said.

The Douglas County School District had promoted to head of human resources Brian Ewert, who in 2006 drew the ire of sheriff's officials when he was principal of El Dorado Elementary School. Investigators had charged Ewert with failure to report after they determined he failed to tell them he knew a child-care director at his school had used a pen to draw a smiley face on the butt of one of the children in a rec center locker room. The child-care director, Paul Arriola, was later convicted of sexually assaulting children under his care after children revealed he ran a “tighty whitey club” in which he took photographs of children in their underwear kissing one another in exchange for candy and patted their naked buttocks.

“In hindsight you wonder, ‘What should I have seen that I didn't see?',” Ewert, now superintendent of Littleton Public Schools, said in a recent interview, adding his criminal charges were dismissed by prosecutors. “Now my advice, in my position, is to never question anything. If you have any question in your head, it doesn't matter. You just report, and then you leave it to the experts to determine what happened.”

Back during the turmoil at Rocky Heights, Aragon, the investigator, confronted McMurphy, the assistant principal, telling him during an interview that he had violated the mandatory reporting law by failing to report Johnson but would not be prosecuted due to the statute of limitations. McMurphy told the investigator he still did not understand the mandatory reporting law even though he had been investigated for a separate violation of the law just six months earlier, Aragon recalled.

The former head of security for Douglas County schools, Dan Clemente, testified when deposed that he had quit in disgust due to a lack of support. He testified that among those who refused to take seriously his warnings that they needed to bolster mandatory reporting training was Dierberger, the principal at Rocky Heights. In one heated phone call, Dierberger became “belligerent and disrespectful” and began to yell when Clemente told her she needed to have her staff attend training sessions that covered mandatory reporting, Clemente testified. Those who had dodged the training sessions included McMurphy.

Dierberger no longer works for the district. McMurphy was promoted to principal at another school, but he also has since left the district. Neither returned messages seeking comment.

The district has made improvements, said Paula Hans, the public information officer. She said the lawsuit filed by the former Rocky Heights student raped by Johnson was settled, but Hans refused to make the terms public. “All employees in the Douglas County School District are required to complete mandatory reporting training each year they are employed with us,” she said in a statement.




A Catholic Church child sex abuse bombshell is coming, and Pa. lawmakers had better be on the right side

by Maria Panaritis

The warning Tuesday came from Catholic men in the Pennsylvania legislature.

Their names are Tom Murt of Montgomery County, Pat Harkins of Erie, and Mark Rozzi of Reading. They're guys who go to church or, in Rozzi's case at least, used to — until he was raped by a priest as a 13-year-old.

A bombshell is coming, they warned during a rally inside the Capitol in Harrisburg. And anyone working alongside them in this, the people's hall of power, had better be on the right side of things when it does.

An investigative grand jury report into clergy abuse in six of the state's eight Catholic dioceses may be days away from being made public. Rumored to be 884 pages long, it is expected to make stomachs turn, the product of more than two years' worth of top-secret subpoenas and testimony led by a team in the Attorney General's Office.

Let's hope it shakes everyone to their core. Because lawmakers must be prodded toward justice, once and for all.

This was the message from Murt, Harkins, Rozzi, God bless them.

For too long in this state, people who were raped as kids were raped again as adults by Pennsylvania law. Civil and criminal statutes of limitations for child sexual abuse were so forgiving to institutions and rapists, it was virtually impossible for people to sue or press charges once a fragile child had become a full-fledged adult.

“It's sickening,” said Pat Harkins of what's reportedly coming from the office of Attorney General Josh Shapiro. Just a few weeks ago Shapiro's office charged an Erie Diocese priest who repeatedly assaulted a boy and then made the youngster confess to him about it in a church confessional.

“What you're going to hear is going to rock your faith,” Harkins said as a crowd of victims, including an aspiring Miss Pennsylvania and members of the Jehovah's Witness faith, filled a marble staircase behind him. “I anticipate a number of church pews are going to be empty after this.”

Murt made sure the crowd knew he graduated from Archbishop Wood High School, taught at Archbishop Ryan, and teaches religious education at the parish he belongs to in Montgomery County. A classmate from Wood, he added, had been abused.

Then, Murt, who'd backed a statute of limitations reform bill in 2016 that died in the Senate under pressure from the church and insurance lobbies, called on lawmakers to take the moral high ground and not let that happen again.

“As public officials,” Murt said, “if we don't take action, then shame belongs to us — for knowing what the right thing is and not doing it.”

Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a guy off to the side and under a golden archway. I knew him. He was watching the rally with studied dispassion, popping what might have been gum or mints into his mouth as speeches flowed from a lectern.

He was lobbyist Sam Marshall, president of the Insurance Federation of Pennsylvania.

Marshall has good reason to worry.

This is not 2016. Welcome to #MeToo 2018.

The old playbook of shielding the powerful from sexual abuse accountability is a bit dusty all of a sudden.

Earlier this year, a jury in Montgomery County convicted Bill Cosby in a sexual assault case that had failed to get traction earlier. Then prosecutors in New York charged formerly untouchable Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein for previously unprosecuted alleged sexual assaults.

The sick thing in Pennsylvania is that many grown men and women who were violated as children — people now in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and up — cannot press charges because of how pathetically narrow the filing window has been under the criminal statute of limitations . Nor can they file lawsuits because of the civil guidelines.

The Catholic Church has fought alongside the insurance lobby for over a decade against changing the civil statute. This has blocked child victims from suing now that they are much older.

For these powerful lobbies, the potential financial cost has trumped the merely moral notion of justice.

But what's about to come may test that.

The grand jury scrutinized the Dioceses of Greensburg , Allentown, Scranton, Erie, Harrisburg, and Pittsburgh. (The Philadelphia Archdiocese was spared because its own horrific legacy of concealment was laid bare by multiple local grand jury probes dating to 2005. Altoona-Johnstown had its dirty laundry hung out just two years ago by former Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane.)

The grand jury judge, Norman A. Krumenacker III, in a ruling last week to stop unnamed individuals from blocking the report's release, hinted that what's to come is extensive, including findings into allegations of “endangering the welfare of children, obstruction of justice by individuals associated with the Roman Catholic Church, local public officials, and community leaders.”

No wonder Sam the insurance lobbyist wanted to watch the festivities.

“To my colleagues in the General Assembly in the House and the Senate, I say: No more excuses,” Rozzi bellowed. “Close your door to the lobbyists around here and open your door to justice.”

As Rozzi's voice echoed off the marble, Sam walked away.



ACT Government agrees to all recommendations from child sex abuse royal commission

by Elise Scott

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr has praised the bravery of child sexual abuse survivors for sparking sweeping protections for children through the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

The ACT Government has officially adopted 290 recommendations from the royal commission, including creating a criminal offence for not reporting allegations revealed during confession.

Of the 307 recommendations that apply to states and territories, the territory has listed 16 for further consideration and one as noted, saying those require more work.

But Mr Barr says his government has told Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull it will implement all the recommendations.

"We do so because child abuse is unacceptable and appalling," he said.

Among those accepted in principle is a recommendation to force priests to report to police any allegations or suspicions of child sexual abuse uncovered during confession.

"The ACT Government supports the intent of this recommendation and has commenced consultation in relation to creating a criminal offence of failure to report," the Government's response report said.

Some recommendations already implemented

Legislation passed last week extending the ACT's Reportable Conduct Scheme — which mandates organisations reporting child abuse to the Ombudsman — to religious institutions.

But the new laws exempt confession until March 2019 to allow for consultation.

"In light of the findings of the commission, it's clear that organisations that work with children whether they're large or small can no longer assume that child abuse won't happen in their organisation," Mr Barr said.

One recommendation that was noted by the ACT relates to speeding up the processing of working with children checks to within five days.

The Government said while it supports the intent of the recommendation, "on average, the time to process applications is 18 days and a criminal history check may take up to 20 working days to complete".

'Every little bit helps': Survivor speaks out

A survivor of child sexual abuse in Canberra said while those people who have been fighting for decades may consider today's findings "a relief", he was not there yet.

The man, who asked to remain anonymous, gave evidence during the royal commission and said "every little bit helps", but this could not be seen as the end of the road.

"From survivors in the room there was concern of this word 'apology' being seen as this idea that it's finished, that it's all done and dusted," he said.

He said if all the recommendations were implemented, a repeat of his case would be unlikely.



Two Nassar-inspired bills signed, giving sexual abuse survivors more time to sue

by Kaitlyn Kelley

Two bills inspired by ex-MSU and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar's sexual abuse were signed on Tuesday, giving childhood sexual abuse survivors more time to sue.

One of the bills signed will allow people who were sexually abused in childhood to sue until their 28th birthdays or three years from when they realize they have been abused and will give Nassar survivors a 90-day window to sue retroactively. Currently, the cutoff to sue under these circumstances in Michigan is usually a minor survivor's 19th birthday.

The other bill will give prosecutors 15 years, or until a survivor's 28th birthday, to file charges for second and third degree criminal sexual conduct cases if the survivor was younger than 18 when abuse occurred. Currently, the deadline is 10 years or until a survivor's 21st birthday.

Michigan Lt. Gov. Brian Calley signed the two bills on Tuesday during a bill-signing event. Nassar survivors, including Rachael Denhollander, Amanda Thomashow and Larissa Boyce, attended the signing and a press conference.

According to the Associated Press , Denhollander said she was "deeply disappointed" that the House changed the legislation to not retroactively help all childhood sexual abuse survivors, as the legislative reform was meant for every survivor in the state of Michigan.

Over two dozen other bills in the package of Nassar-inspired legislation are not likely to go through final legislative passage until the fall.

Other bills in the package would:

•  Require education on sexual assault and abuse in grades 6 - 12.

•  Increase penalties for the possession and distribution of child pornography.

•  Make it a crime to persuade someone to not report an incident of sexual assault.

•  Expand the list of mandatory reporters to physical therapists, physical therapist assistants and athletic trainers. Paid coaches are not included as mandatory reporters.

•  Increase penalties for those who do not report sexual misconduct and require consent from patients who receive invasive medical procedures, which would make sexual assault under the appearance of medical treatment a crime.


New York

New York passes bill to fix weak laws on child sex trafficking

by Joshua Philipp

Under a bill passed on June 13 by the New York State Senate, anyone over the age of 21 who promotes or profits from the prostitution of minors will be charged with sex trafficking and face 25 years in prison.

The bill is now on the desk of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and will go into effect if he signs it.

“Human trafficking is a scourge that continues to plague our communities,” New York Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said in a statement . “Today's legislation will help make sure that those who exploit children in this heinous way are brought to justice.”

The bill will close a loophole that allowed child sex traffickers in New York to get off the hook for their crimes.

According to the New York Post , under current New York laws, if prosecutors want to convict someone on child trafficking, they need to prove that the minors were forced or coerced into prostitution. This means that if the children did not testify or weren't able to testify, the traffickers could get away with few repercussions.

Assembly member Pamela Hunter said in the statement that “Human trafficking is a hidden crime, and often, the victims are hidden and transported in plain sight.”

The bill has been in the assembly committee for years, according to New York Post, and was previously blocked over concerns that its tough rules could lead to victims being prosecuted if they helped recruit more girls, or landlords could be charged if a pimp operates on their property.

Several other bills recently passed in the United States take an equally harsh stance on the trafficking of women and children, including the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) which has similar provisions to the New York bill that make it easier to hold those behind the abuses accountable.



Police find 51 of 76 missing children in Michigan sweep


FLINT, Mich. (WTHR) - Police in Michigan rescued dozens of missing children in a countywide sweep Thursday.

According to WEYI-TV in Flint, officers hit the streets to find or get information about 76 missing children in Genesee County. By the end of the multi-agency operation, 51 of those children were located.

Police said they were looking for children that may have fallen through the cracks, specifically those who had gone missing from foster care, were absent from school or are currently in the court system. Officers wanted to make sure the children were safe and had a support system to stay out of trouble.

Investigators told WEYI at least five, but as many as 10 of the children were either involved with or could have fallen into sex trafficking.

Officers will continue to work to find the remaining 25 children on their list.



Experts: Sex trafficking picks up during summer months

Sex traffickers could be out at beaches or malls looking for children who are unsupervised

by Gianna Caserta

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — A warning to parents: Sex traffickers could be out at beaches and malls looking for children who are unsupervised. Experts say human trafficking picks up during summer months.

When Gina Kenyon's teenage daughter received this message on social media, she told her mom right away.

“She said, 'Mom I want to show you something,' she showed me a message that she was just going to blow off, she wasn't going to answer it, but she showed it to be and it was absolutely astounding, I didn't know what to do,” Kenyon said.

The Instagram message promised financial support and a relationship with a professional athlete or actor. It turned out to be connected to a sex-trafficking ring out in California.

“Once a trafficker gets a child's contact information, either through social media, through messaging, texting, the grooming process begins. The grooming process can take as little as two weeks to convince a child to meet with them, and at that point, it may be too late,” Lynne Barletta, founder of Catch the Wave of Hope said.

Catch the Wave of Hope is a local organization in Palm Beach County leading the way to abolish sex trafficking. Barletta said that during the summer months, traffickers are at beaches and malls, anywhere children could be unsupervised.

“This is raw evil. Where we used to have an extreme drug problem in Florida, now we have an extreme sex-trafficking problem. Drug dealers are turning to using people, children because it is much more lucrative to sell a child 20, 30 times a night than it is to sell a drug once,” Barletta said.

While anyone can be a victim, Barletta said 13-year-old girls and 11-year-old boys are the prime target, and the recruiters are the same age.

“They use recruiters that are a child's age or slightly older. They are very good-looking, charming, they know exactly how to make an approach to a middle- schooler, make them feel beautiful, special and appeal to their dreams, or desire to make money, offer them a relationship, modeling, any type of glamorous position,” Barletta said.

Barletta said knowing what your child is doing and who they are talking to on social media could save their life.

“If you notice a child is beginning to detach and seem disenfranchised from their friends or family, and they begin to be withdrawn, that is a sign to see what else is going on in their life,” Barletta said.

Catch the Wave of Hope is building a safe house for sex-trafficking victims in our area and they need help raising money for the cause.