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"News of the Week"  

August, 2018 - Week 1
MJ Goyings
Many thanks to our very own "MJ" Goyings, a resident of Ohio,
for her daily research that provides us with the news related material that appears on the LACP & NAASCA web sites.


Fort Worth, Texas man convicted of sex trafficking children sentenced to life in prison

by Daniela Sternitzky-Di Napoli

Fort Worth man, Demarcus Davis, aka "Zigg," 26, was sentenced to life in prison on Monday after being convicted in April on one count of sex trafficking of children.

According to the Department of Justice, a lead sent to the Fort Worth Police by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) tipped them off to the criminal activity.

Davis was then taken into federal custody in October 2017 along with seven other men who recruited, advertised and sold women both adults and underage for the purpose of commercial sex."

Among, those other men were Pierre Lagrone, aka "P" or "Pedro," 33, and Herman Sanders, aka "Pooh," 29, both of who were identified as the main co-conspirators in the operation.

"Lagrone and Davis were violent pimps who recruited, controlled, and profited off underage female victims through commercial sex acts," said a press release by the Department of Justice.

"The defendants communicated with potential clients, collected proceeds, and paid for motels rooms and supplies. Lagrone and Davis kept almost all, if not all, of the proceeds of the commercial sex acts, providing only food, shelter, and occasional clothing to the underage female victims. Sanders conspired with and assisted Lagrone in this sex trafficking."

Both Sanders and Lagrone were also convicted in April along with Davis after a four-day trial.

Lagrone was convicted on one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of children, four counts of sex trafficking of children and one count of possession of child pornography. He was sentenced to life in prison on Tuesday, July 24, 2018.

Sanders was sentenced to 420 months (or 35 years) in prison on one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of children, one count of production of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography.



California girl says 'hero' postal worker rescued her from world of sex trafficking

by Madeline Farber -- Fox News

A California girl who claims she was trapped in a world of sex trafficking until recently credits a South Sacramento postal worker with her rescue.

In June, Ivan Crisostomo, a postal carrier, heard a “desperate crying” coming from behind a tree. When he looked around, he saw 16-year-old Crystal Allen.

"She started to point to her arm, saying: 'They were putting things in me. They were putting things in me. They are coming to get me,'" Crisostomo recalled Allen telling him, according to FOX 40.

She then told Crisostomo that she was able to escape her captors by jumping out of the car as they were driving through a neighborhood, managing to grab a cellphone on her way out.

Crisostomo and Allen used the phone to call the teen's mother, Stacy Ohman. Officials with the Sacramento Sheriff's Department were also called. 

The postal worker said he stayed with the 16-year-old until authorities arrived to take her to the hospital. She is now home with her family, CBS13 reported.

Allen was allegedly “drugged, tortured and abused” for three months before she escaped, the news station reported.

"I just cried all the time and prayed that I'd get to see my mom again," Allen said.

It is not currently clear whose Allen's alleged captors are or how she became involved with them. 

The teen and Crisostomo were reunited on Thursday, where she thanked him for helping her.

"Ivan himself is a hero for saving me," Allen told FOX 40.  "Even though he doesn't think it."


US Air Force - Joint Base Andrews, Maryland

Failure To Protect: Air Force Handling Of Colonel's Child Sex Assault Charges Raises Questions

by Tara Haelle -- FORBES

“I have nightmares of my father.” That's why active-duty US Air Force Col. Eric Holt's son told his mother he was sleeping with his head under the covers. “I was just worried that my dad will be there.”

This is the story of two small boys who fell through a system rife with cracks, where the evidence suggests most authorities charged with protecting them failed to do so. It's the story of a flawed military justice system that has members of Congress asking the Air Force questions. It's a story where every fact is supported by court documents, Air Force memos and verified emails. It's a story of how children are left at risk when official agencies don't cooperate and lack sufficient training in child sexual assault cases. It's a story of the persistent refusal to believe victims.

The boy and his twin brother told multiple witnesses how their father allegedly hurt them over several years. The boys repeatedly returned from visits with their father with bruises, lacerations and genital injuries that research suggests are unlikely to have been accidental during usual child play. But, as authors of a recent commentary in Pediatrics suggest happens too often, authorities did not believe the boys.

“Just as the #MeToo movement has led to an emphasis on trusting women and believing their experiences, we must do the same with girls and boys who are traumatized,” wrote pediatrician Nickolas Agathis, MD, of Texas Children's Hospital in Houston, and two colleagues. An estimated 35 percent of girls and 20 percent of boys globally have experienced sexual assault before age 18, according to the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund.

The case involving Holt's sons in many ways exemplifies the concerns Agathis and his colleagues raise. The Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI) investigated Holt, an anesthesiologist, for physical and sexual abuse of his 6-year-old sons and provided a Report of Investigation (ROI) to Col. E. John Teichert III, commander of the 11th Wing at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland.

Teichert decided June 7 not to advance the case to an Article 32 hearing, the preliminary hearing to determine whether a court martial (a military trial) will occur. In accordance with military justice procedures, Teichert's commanding officer, Maj. Gen. James A. Jacobson, commander of Air Force troops in Washington, D.C., reviewed the ROI and Teichert's decision.

Jacobson affirmed the decision, closed the case and ended the military protective order preventing Holt from contacting his sons. Now he's seeking custody of his sons, with a decision expected in August. Holt did not respond to multiple requests for comment, but he has denied causing non-accidental injuries to his children; court documents show he denied sexual abuse.

“I just don't understand it. I was shocked at the decision not to take this case to an Article 32,” said Maj. Jophiel Philips, a Bronze Star recipient and the mother's military lawyer. “It's not a high threshold to examine all the evidence at an Article 32.”

The boys' Special Victims Counsel, Capt. Lauren Kerby and Capt. Stephanie Howell, also disagreed with the decision.

“We have always believed that there is sufficient evidence in this case to, at the very least, proceed to a preliminary hearing,” Kerby said. “You look at this evidence, and it seems very clear that something is going on with the children.”

But it wasn't clear to Holt's commanding officers, whose involvement is a key flaw in the military justice system, some say.

“The biggest weakness of the military justice system is that the decisions are not made by independent prosecutors but the accused's commanders, and they're being advised by people who work for them,” said retired Air Force Col. Don Christensen, a former lead prosecutor for the Air Force and current president of Protect Our Defenders. “The commander has an inherent bias because he always knows the accused.”

Retired US Navy Capt. Glenna Tinney, who represented children in child abuse cases in the military, agreed. Those making these decisions have a connection to the service member but may not have that connection to the member's family, Tinney said. The commanders “very much want to believe” the accused.

And they did.

“The Air Force takes every allegation of child sexual abuse seriously,” James E. Lotz, Air Force District of Washington spokesperson, said. “This is especially true when we receive allegations like those received in this case. In that regard, the Air Force took numerous steps to thoroughly investigate and protect the welfare of the children.”

But not everyone agrees, including US Rep. Joseph Kennedy III (D-Mass.), who responded to the boys' mother's request for help.

“Congressman Kennedy remains deeply concerned that his constituents, [the mother] and her children, have not received the thorough, fair investigation that they deserve and that these allegations warrant,” Dan Black, a spokesperson for Rep. Kennedy's office, told this reporter.

US Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-Mass.) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) joined Rep. Kennedy to send a letter June 12 to Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson and Air Force Chief of Staff David Goldfein expressing “grave concerns about the safety of this military family” and requesting a thorough review of the case.

A Long List of Suspicious Bruises and Injuries

The alleged abuse began even before the boys were born. While the boys' pregnant mother was on bed rest, Holt allegedly threw a chair at her, immediately after which her water broke. After medical personnel staved off labor for the next four days, she delivered the boys at 30 weeks; they spent two months in the NICU. Both have some developmental delay as a result of their premature birth but are not far behind their peers.

But their mother is not pressing charges for abuse she suffered: she's focused on her boys. From ages 3-5, after the parents had separated, the boys came home from visits with their father with a long list of suspicious injuries, documented in photos, videos and medical records reviewed by this journalist. An independent board-certified child abuse pediatrician unconnected to the case also reviewed some of the evidence at my request.

During those three years, one boy sustained bruising on sides of both thighs, two black eyes, an eye laceration, a small injury on his right ear, a wrist laceration, abrasions on the back of his knee, broad patterned marks across his shoulder, and a hematoma (bruised lump) on his forehead after his dad allegedly kicked the chair he was spinning in. (A local police officer called it a difference in parenting styles.) His brother had a large apparent bite mark and bruise below his knee, a long cheek laceration, a black eye, a bruise on his rear thigh, a puncture wound in his palm, and multiple other injuries. Holt attributed each injury to different accidental incidents that occurred under his care during visitations.

Toddlers and preschoolers often get bumps, bruises and scrapes during usual play. But according to child abuse experts and research, injuries to the ears, cheeks, neck, upper thighs, lower buttocks, rear knees, shoulders and torso are far less likely in accidental injury and more likely in abuse—particularly when they keep happening. Further, some specific characteristics of the children's injuries are more likely to result from abuse than accidents. For example, a forensic nurse who examined the patterned marks on one boy's shoulder said they looked like a shoe sole imprint; the independent child abuse pediatrician who viewed a photo of them said the same.

One of the children also had redness around his anus. Though many things can cause such redness, he also had a bruised genital and described digital and penile penetration of his anus to several individuals, including investigators. According to research and child abuse pediatricians, bruised genitals are extremely suspicious for abuse. The boy described the alleged abuse through fearful tears in a cell phone video where his mother asked open-ended questions.

He told the same account, with consistent but non-identical language, to five individuals: a nanny, a playmate's mother, a child advocacy center social worker, an Air Force interviewer and the boys' state-assigned and state-paid therapist. The Air Force investigator concluded the child was being coached, but the investigator had not followed American Academy of Pediatrics recommended procedures for interviewing alleged child sexual abuse victims, such as questioning the child outside caregivers' presence. Holt denied sexually abusing either son, according to court documents.

The boys also told one hospital's medical staff and a family friend they were frightened of their father. One of the boys “was petrified,” said Amber Arrant, the wife of one of Holt's teammates on his tour in Afghanistan. “He just totally broke down crying out of the blue and said he did not want to go to his dad's. He said, ‘I don't want to go back there. I'm scared. He hurts me.'”

A History of Violent Behavior and Impulse Problems

Witnesses, court documents and police reports reveal a history of aggressive behavior in Holt, particularly since the traumatic brain injury he suffered during his tour in Afghanistan in 2009. It took more than a year for Holt to recover from his injuries, including relearning to walk and talk. He then returned to work as an anesthesiologist with some limitations, according to court documents.

“He seems very congenial and happy-go-lucky on the surface,” said retired Air Force Master Sgt. Robert Arrant, a member of Holt's team in Afghanistan, but the explosion “changed him completely.” Holt had lost his inhibitions and developed a short fuse. Arrant described an incident during Holt's recovery when he became so angry at a hospital cafeteria cashier that Arrant worried Holt “would jump across and smack her.” Arrant's wife, Amber, also observed anger problems and increased drinking in Holt after his injury.

A former neighbor, Helena Dabrowski, described an incident in December 2012 that left her “terrified” of Holt after their dogs were in an altercation in the neighborhood. She called to Holt as he approached and began to apologize, but Holt began screaming obscenities and threats as he advanced toward her, she said. “Next time I see you, I'm going to get a bat and kill your dog,” she recalled him shouting. He also threatened to use the bat on her sons, she said. “I've never seen anyone totally lose it like he did.”

A few months later in March 2013, the local Child Protective Services opened their first investigation after Holt allegedly twisted his wife's arm and pushed her into a kitchen island while she held one of the boys. CPS told Holt's wife to get a protective order against Holt, which she did. But when police tried to serve him, Holt fled. He was arrested a few days later.

Holt admitted during that investigation – after not returning CPS calls for a month and cancelling two scheduled interviews – that his traumatic brain injury left him with reduced inhibition and problems with “impulse control sexually,” court documents show. Holt also acknowledged hiring sex workers and watching online pornography.

Shortly thereafter, CPS did not substantiate neglect of the boys and closed the investigation. Following a concurrent Air Force Family Advocacy Program investigation, Holt was ordered to take anger management classes. Later, the Air Force ordered Holt to attend an alcohol abuse prevention program after another alleged domestic violence incident after Holt was alleged to have been heavily drinking.

Uneven Justice Outcomes

Given the boys' disclosures and injuries, Holt's history and the known impulse and aggression issues associated with traumatic brain injury, it's understandable that the boys' lawyers thought an Article 32 hearing was appropriate. But given that Holt is also a high-ranking officer and a West Point-educated, Harvard-trained anesthesiologist who was injured in a war zone, it's not necessarily surprising that the case was closed, suggested those familiar with patterns in the military justice system.

“Without a doubt, any time you have somebody who is high ranking, whether a senior enlisted service member or officer, their cases are handled differently than what lower ranking people's are,” said Christensen, the Protect Our Defenders president who has long campaigned for reform in how the military handles sexual assault.

Department of Defense data reported at the Washington Post shows how few officers are disciplined compared to enlisted troops in sexual assault cases, despite no evidence that officers offend at lower rates.

“The higher ranking the person, the more they have to lose, often the more protective the system becomes,” Tinney, the former Navy attorney, said. “This guy is a colonel, and his peers are the people making these decisions.” Add to that media stories that celebrated Holt as a “war hero.” “He may be a war hero,” Tinney said, “but that doesn't preclude him from being abusive.”

It's also easy for children to fall through the cracks in the military system, Tinney said, particularly if the military and civilian systems do not cooperate and have clearly defined roles and responsibilities for the local and base authorities and programs. For example, research suggests the US Army has a poor track record in investigating child abuse cases, though less data exist for other branches.

Further, authorities often simply don't believe victims, especially those of sexual assault, including children, experts say. Many of the people survivors of abuse turn to “are untrained in both the dynamics of domestic abuse and the impact of trauma on survivors,” said Margaret Drew, an associate professor of law at the UMass Law School and director of the Human Rights at Home Clinic in Dartmouth, who has been honored for her work in domestic and sexual violence.

“When a survivor does not convey information in a linear fashion, or otherwise appears to be disorganized or upset, or does not remember all of the traumatic details at the same time, the listeners believe that this behavior indicates lack of credibility,” Drew said. “In fact, the very symptoms the players observe can be the consequence of abuse but are used instead to discredit abuse allegations.”

The boys' lawyers and Philips believe the Air Force legal office's doubts about the mother's credibility was one driving factor in dismissing the case—a typical but often unwarranted belief.

“Stereotypes that women lie are easily absorbed by investigators,” Drew said. “When the abuser is powerful, the investigator may have already convinced herself that the abuser is credible.”

One Air Force investigator also expressed a belief the children were coached. Yet an expert in child sexual abuse and trauma, Joyanna Silberg, PhD, who interviewed the mother and reviewed the videos and disclosure accounts, testified in family court that the boys and their disclosures appeared credible. An independent child abuse pediatrician unconnected to the case also viewed the video and saw no evidence of coaching, instead pointing out features that particularly supported the apparent authenticity of the child's disclosure.

False sexual abuse allegations are extremely rare. It's difficult to determine precise rates of children's false or erroneous sexual abuse accusations because research methods vary, but children are usually more likely to lie to cover up abuse than lie about it happening. The current research consensus suggests false rates of 2-5%, with lower rates for children under age 6.

That 30% to 80% of cases are not reported at all, however, means false accusation rates reported in research likely represent an even smaller percentage of overall cases. And when false accusations do exist, particularly in cases of parental separation, research has found “custodial parents (usually mothers) and children were least likely to fabricate reports of abuse or neglect.” The mother has had legal primary physical custody of both boys since 2013, reaffirmed by courts in 2014 and 2016.

Investigation and Procedural Irregularities Raise Questions

The military's dismissal of the mother's and children's testimony accompanied a pattern of procedural irregularities that triggered the involvement of Congress members Kennedy, Tsongas and Gillibrand. In their June 12 letter, obtained by Newsweek, they wrote, “We are concerned that the safety of the children in this case could be seriously undermined because of the reported actions taken by members of the command and Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI), which suggest that the Air Force's owns procedures and policies were not followed.”

For example, when the Air Force first became involved, they did not initially assign the boys and their mother Special Victims Counsel or issue a military protective order to Holt to not contact the children. The mother later learned she was due these and requested them. The military protective order was regularly renewed until early this year when, at Holt's request, his commander issued a new military protective order that gave Holt supervised visitation rights.

That's when Kennedy's office sent an inquiry to the Air Force March 20 this year asking why a new order allowing visitation had been issued, counter to usual procedures. They subsequently sent two additional queries regarding the Air Force's unwillingness to order Holt to pay child support and the overall handling of the investigation, including military personnel statements that disparaged the mother and deemed her not believable.

Philips said it's highly unusual for the Air Force not to hold an airman accountable for paying a debt, including child support, and Holt owes more than $100,000 in unpaid child support. The $1,000-$1,400 he was paying monthly fell well short of the court-ordered $8,500 a month, and the boys' mother had cashed out her retirement and other savings and applied for public health insurance for the boys. The boys' counsel, Kerby and Howell, even wrote a three-page memo to Jacobson on the matter, citing multiple Air Force Instructions regarding airmen's financial responsibilities. Yet Jacobson responded that “the civilian court system is best suited to handle the dispute.”

One of the biggest concerns Kennedy's office and the Special Victims Counsel have about the case is how much evidence was left out of the Report of Investigation, though the boys' lawyers maintain it still contained enough to justify an Article 32 hearing. The ROI left out photographic evidence of one boy's bruised genital, an email by Rob Arrant expressing concern for the boys' safety in light of Holt's violent behavior and alcohol use, supporting materials regarding the mother's credibility, and one witness's statement about one boy's disclosure of sexual abuse. It included a custody negotiator's recommendation for joint custody during a hearing but omitted the cross-examination that led to dismissing that testimony.

According to Air Force spokesman Lotz, “Maj Gen Jacobson reviewed all evidence to include the medical records.” However, Maj. Philips emailed Jacobson requesting he wait to issue a decision until Philips could provide hospital records regarding one boy's hematoma. Jacobson did not wait.

Then, the same day Jacobson issued his final decision, his office sent the decision and supporting documents to the civilian judge who oversaw the custody trial the following Monday, June 18. The trial judge acknowledged receipt of documents but did not provide copies to the parties.

“Judicial ethics demand that a judge who received third-party information regarding a pending case disclose that information to the parties,” Drew said. “Otherwise, the judge risks her rulings being challenged as biased. It is fundamental to our legal system that parties be given the opportunity to challenge any information or evidence upon which the judge may make a decision.”

The Air Force, meanwhile, stands by Jacobson's decision: “The Air Force investigated the allegations, reviewed evidence and assessments from Maryland law enforcement and child service agencies and, ultimately, determined the evidence was insufficient to support the allegations,” spokesman Lotz said. “In reaching a final decision, the commander relied on the advice of his legal staff and the assessment of one of the Air Force's most experienced senior trial counsel, as well as the opinion of a civilian expert in forensic psychology, hired by the Air Force, who evaluated the evidence and concluded the credibility of the evidence to be highly suspect. The Air Force's decision was consistent with Maryland law enforcement's and child services agencies' investigations, finding the evidence against Col. Holt inconclusive.”

But even the “most experienced senior trial counsel” are unequipped to provide expertise on a case like this without specialized experience in sexual assault cases, and Staff Judge Advocates advising the commander typically have very little, if any, experience prosecuting cases or dealing with sexual assault cases, Christensen said.

“It's very easy to be dismissive of what a person [victim] says to you if you don't understand the impact of trauma,” Christensen said. “There's just nothing that compares to the complexity of sexual assault.”

The Air Force also discredited the testimony of child trauma expert Silberg, who reviewed evidence of the boys' disclosures and interviewed the mother. The “civilian expert in forensic psychology” the Air Force hired, Elaine Bailey, PhD, only reviewed the Report of Investigation and found the boys' credibility “highly suspect regarding the allegations in this case.” Yet Bailey's bio lists no specialized experience with child trauma, and her CV reveals no pediatric training. Her only child psychotherapy experience was a one-year, part-time graduate assistant position in the mid-1990s. All her research focuses on geriatrics, including one book chapter on geriatric depression, compared to Silberg's two books and various articles specifically on child maltreatment and trauma.

Finally, the CPS investigations the Air Force relied on had their own problems. While investigating the hematoma injury, a CPS official interviewed the wrong child at school, reporting no evidence of injury or abuse when it was his brother – whom she never saw – with the injury. The same CPS investigator interviewed the child's pulmonologist, who was not present during the boy's emergency department visit, but did not interview the treating emergency physician.

A different CPS official later dropped by the mother's house and casually asked the boys about the injury with their mother present – against AAP recommendations for interviewing. After they said it was an accident, he left without further questioning. And during a family court hearing in June 2017, a county Child Welfare Services investigator on child sex abuse testified they had “no credible disclosure of abuse, and there was no corroborating evidence to support the allegations, therefore we had to rule the case out.” Yet the boy who experienced sexual abuse described it to five different witnesses, including investigators, five different times.

“This sort of circular bureaucratic behavior is not at all unusual in child abuse cases,” Drew, the professor of law, said. “CPS defers to the family or criminal courts, but then CPS's lack of investigation or findings of abuse is interpreted by the courts as not supporting the abuse allegations. In this matter, there is the additional complication of the family court proceedings appearing to rely upon the conclusions of a flawed military investigation. Consequently, children's voices can be lost completely.”

Boys' Future Is Uncertain

The boys' parents will learn the custody hearing decision in August. For now, the Air Force case is closed, to the dismay of the boys' lawyers.

“Our job is to make sure these children have a voice in this process,” Kerby said. “An Article 32 hearing is important so that a military judge can review the evidence and these boys have a shot at justice.”

The only steps that could be taken are a civilian trial – if a district attorney would be willing to press charges after the military dismissed this case – or a reopening of the military case following pressure from congressional offices. Additional injuries to the boys may trigger new investigations, but that situation is exactly what the mother hopes to prevent.

“[The mother] has never stopped fighting for her boys, ever, and I find that to be extremely admirable,” Kerby said. She, Howell and Philips continue to fight as well.

“With all the objective evidence this case has, to not protect folks with procedural due process in the military justice system is unacceptable,” Philips said, “especially with little kids involved.”



When an Iowa mom reported child sex abuse, the suspect walked, and she lost visitation time

by Lee Rood

Last August, Natashia “Tasha” Villanueva called West Des Moines police to report a 16-year-old babysitter had sexually abused her children.

Her kids told her the teen sexually molested her 7-year-old daughter, made her 9-year-old brother sexually abuse his sister as the teen videotaped them, and then exposed himself to a 5-year-old sibling while Villanueva was at work, a child abuse report shows.

The siblings' testimony helped substantiate findings in a child abuse investigation. A child protective worker found the teen responsible for sexual abuse as well as exploitation, and placed him on a state registry of child abusers, records show.

But Dallas County authorities have not pursued criminal charges against him.

Not long after, a judge in Texas, where Villanueva's ex-husband lives, dramatically reduced the time she is allowed to spend with her children.

“Why does (the babysitter) get to walk away from two felonies and a misdemeanor, while I have to live a disrupted, miserable life?” Villanueva asked Watchdog.

The case raises questions of gender bias in the legal system. Researchers exploring reactions to sex abuse contend professionals in such cases often blame mothers, not abusers, for not foreseeing abuse. 

Several studies show most mothers of sex abuse victims, when told of abuse, tend to believe their children's disclosures and take protective action.

Advocacy groups, such as Mothers of Sexually Abused Children in Oregon, say mothers cannot be blamed for failing to anticipate the acts of sexual predators.

“(The teen) should have been arrested and put in jail for what he did,” said Mel Langston, a psychotherapist who sometimes testifies in abuse cases. The babysitter's sexual abuse should have been a “non-event in the context of a custody case. She called police immediately and did what she was supposed to do.”

As many as one out of every six boys and one out of every four girls experience some form of sex abuse before the age of 18, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Child abuse investigators take allegations seriously because the trauma can have lifetime repercussions, from depression, addiction, suicidal thoughts and post-traumatic stress.

But in custody disputes, sex abuse allegations are sometimes used as leverage by parents.

Cord Bowers, Villanueva's ex-husband, did not return phone calls this week seeking comment. 

Villanueva says she and her ex-husband split in 2013, and their divorce was final in 2015. She was supposed to enjoy summers and Christmas breaks in Iowa with her children under a divorce decree.

But in late 2015, her ex-husband accused her then-boyfriend of molesting one of her kids. Bowers made a similar report again the following summer, just before the children were scheduled to come visit, she said.

The allegations were unfounded, according to child protective reports. Bowers didn't allow Villanueva to see the children for 15 months before they came home last summer, she says.

Before the babysitter incident, a child custody evaluator hired in the ongoing custody dispute in Texas recommended in writing that the parents should share custody. He also recommended strongly that Bowers quit alienating his children from their mother.

After the babysitter abuse case, the evaluator — Joe McCracken in Nacogdoches, Texas — changed his recommendation to the judge, saying he questioned if Villanueva could keep her kids safe when they visited Iowa.

“The last two times these children have gone to Iowa to visit their mother, questions of severe abuse from a sexual nature has occurred at their mother's residence. I am not sure what an appropriate modification could be to this case. Therefore, any decision of modification, I'm referring back to the judge.”

Alleged child rapist lawyers up

West Des Moines police declined Watchdog's request this week for an incident report related to the babysitter case. 

The teen alleged to have abused the children was a minor. Under changes in state law, only incident reports related to juveniles charged with forcible felonies can be made public.

"We are not going to release any information until we completely review what can be released or not," police spokesman Anthony Giampolo said.

Villanueva says when police tried to question the babysitter, his father hired an attorney, and the attorney declined to allow the teen to be interviewed by police. Then the father sent the teen to New York to live with his mother for a time.

The teen has since returned to the Des Moines metro, she said.

Thus far, Bowers also has declined to aid in the investigation, she said.

The teen "could be molesting other kids now,” she said. “This is giving him free rein to do it again. People like that don't change. It's very unnerving and very unsettling.”

The Register does not typically name those accused of crimes unless they have been charged criminally.

Dallas County Attorney Wayne Reisetter says Iowa's statute of limitations on child sex abuse does not expire until 10 years after the victim's 18th birthday.

He said he could not comment on the individual case because it still "has the possibility to be a viable prosecution."

Reisetter said he reviewed information related to the case, but he is is limited in what he can do by "the actions of other people and rules of evidence and ethics."

Reisetter said his "heart really does go out to (the mother) and people in her situation, and I would like to know how I could impact that as a prosecutor.

But hearsay from witnesses about what children said and a video may not be able to lead to prosecution in such cases.

"If somebody has information or evidence that is relevant to this case and could help it go forward, we certainly invite them to bring that evidence forward," he said.

Villanueva says her kids knew the teen because he lived in the same West Des Moines apartment complex where she was living with a friend.

Her 5-year-old daughter was the first to tell her the teen exposed himself to her 7-year-old, she said. When she questioned the 7-year-old, the girl told him he touched her vagina with his penis and threatened to beat her 10-year-old brother with a spatula if he didn't sexually abuse her too.

When the boy complied, the teen videotaped the siblings. The boy's father sent Villanueva a copy of that video.

Villanueva says she called police immediately, but hesitated to call her ex-husband right away because of the two previous allegations he'd made to authorities.

An Iowa child protective worker called Bowers in Texas to tell him about the child abuse investigation in Iowa, DHS abuse records show. Villanueva says she spoke to her ex-husband about the incident when she met Bowers to exchange the children that same week. 

Bowers, she said, moved in court to reduce her visitation afterward.

“Should I have kept it a secret?” she asked. “I wasn't hiding anything; I just didn't want him to use it against it me. I did what any normal, reasonable parent would do, and this was how I got treated.”

The modification of the parents' custody agreement calls for Bowers to become primary custodian or “conservator."

It says Villanueva cannot have visits with her kids unless she submits to drug testing, which costs her $200 each time. It also restricts visits to one weekend a month and requires they take place in Nacogdoches County, Texas.

Villanueva says she's fallen behind in paying her child support because of her own living expenses, travel to Texas and costs associated with the legal battle.

The judge's decision almost guarantees she will scarcely see her children because she has to work to live and make up the back child support. With costs for travel, lodging and entertainment for her kids, each trip to Texas can run $1,000. 

“It's not in my children's' best interest for me not to be involved in their life,” she said.

Judge: Case can be modified again

Judge Jack Sinz, the Texas judge who modified Villanueva's custody, said in an interview with Watchdog he does not recall all of his thinking in making the decision last December.

He said he's also prohibited from giving legal advice or discussing his opinion on cases.

However, he said after reviewing some notes in the case, that his ruling was consistent with the case evaluator's concerns and recommendations.

He said there was a full trial in the case, and both parents had the opportunity to testify.

One of the abuse concerns, he said, were reports of the children acting out sexually. “And those things are very hard when you have a small child acting out.”

The charge in the civil custody case, he said, is to act in the best interest of children, relying on a preponderance of evidence. 

The judge said Villanueva can file a new custody suit.

"We try our best to protect children," he said. "But people also don't tell the truth. We do the best we can with what we hear."


New Jersey

N.J. high court bars longtime behavioral theory from child sexual abuse cases

by Joe Hernandez

The New Jersey Supreme Court found little scientific evidence to back up the Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome theory, or CSAAS, a psychological concept that originated in the 1980s. (JanPietruszka/Bigstock)

The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that attorneys may no longer call expert witnesses to testify on a longstanding theory that purports to describe how some children act after sexual abuse.

The court found little scientific evidence to back up the Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome theory, or CSAAS, a psychological concept that originated in the 1980s.

“Pseudo-science, junk science, unreliable science has no place in the courtroom,” said Joe Russo with the Office of the Public Defender, which brought the appeal.

At least 40 U.S. states and Washington, D.C., permit CSAAS testimony in court.

And some clinical psychologists said the ruling could hurt children who make allegations of sexual abuse, since prosecutors may now have a hard time explaining to a jury the odd behavior of some young victims.

CSAAS was first proposed by Dr. Roland Summit in 1983. Summit suggested that children who are victims of sexual abuse may act in ways that seem strange to adults.

Summit said those behaviors included “secrecy; helplessness; entrapment and accommodation; delayed, conflicted, and unconvincing disclosure; and retraction,” according to the Supreme Court ruling.

Although Summit's theory was well received at the time, when research on child sexual abuse was scant, recent critics have said CSAAS is so broad in scope that it could be applied to almost any situation involving abuse allegations — even when abuse has not occurred. They also point to the inescapable circular logic of the theory.

“If you take this belief in CSAAS, your belief is that when a child says they were not abused, that may be a symptom of abuse,” said Dr. Kamala London, a psychologist at the University of Toledo.

“What does someone who wasn't abused do, if denying abuse is symptomatic of abuse?”

In the case before the state Supreme Court, State v. J.L.G., the Hudson County prosecutor's office charged a 32-year-old man with aggravated sexual assault of his teenage stepdaughter over an 18-month period.

The teenager initially denied that the abuse had occurred, apparently in an attempt to pacify her mother who had threatened to kill the defendant “if he's doing something.” The stepdaughter later told authorities that the abuse had in fact occurred. (She had also used her iPhone to record one instance of sexual abuse, and the recording was played in court.)

After the jury found the man guilty, the public defender's office filed an appeal, claiming in part that CSAAS had no basis in science and should not be the subject of expert witness testimony in court.

The appellate division upheld the decision of the trial court to allow CSAAS testimony, but then the Supreme Court sent it back down to the trial division for an evidentiary hearing on the theory itself, the first of its kind in New Jersey.

After considering expert reports, testimony, and dozens of exhibits, trial court Judge Peter F. Bariso, Jr. ruled that the state failed to prove that CSAAS was widely accepted in the scientific community.

In fact, as the high court ruling pointed out, neither the American Psychiatric Association, nor the American Psychological Association recognizes CSAAS. It also does not appear in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), the “authoritative list” of mental health disorders.

Although New Jersey courts began allowing testimony on CSAAS in 1993, Chief Justice Stuart Rabner, who wrote the court's unanimous opinion, said the passage of time has shown that to be a mistake.

“Today, we have the benefit of more critical and thorough scientific analysis of CSAAS, which cautions against its continued use,” Rabner wrote. “Expert testimony about CSAAS therefore may no longer be presented to juries.”

The opinion did provide a carve-out for expert testimony on “delayed disclosure” — when victims wait to report the alleged abuse — which Rabner said does have sufficient scientific backing and would be allowed at trial.

The Supreme Court also upheld the conviction of the defendant, identified only by the initials J.L.G., saying that the evidence against him was so overwhelming that the CSAAS testimony in the case was “harmless.”

Still others who criticized the court's opinion believe it will make it harder for some young accusers at trial.

Dr. Lynn Taska, a psychologist in private practice in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, also gave expert testimony on CSAAS in State v. J.L.G.

She said CSAAS testimony is a critical tool for prosecutors attempting to remind adult juries that children often act differently than mature adults and sometimes without any reason.

“It's really important that jurors understand that when they see that kind of behavior, that doesn't mean it's fake,” Taska said. “I worry that kids won't be believed if the disclosure doesn't look like a perfect statement.”



Arizona care worker accused of migrant shelter child abuse

A former youth worker at a shelter for migrant children in Arizona has pleaded not guilty to sexually abusing eight boys under his care.

Levian Pacheco, 25, is charged with committing 11 sex crimes between August 2016 and July 2017 at the privately operated housing centre.

Records show he is HIV-positive, and some of the boys are undergoing testing for the sexually transmitted virus.

The news comes days after another care worker was charged with a sex crime.

Prosecutors say the boys Mr Pacheco allegedly targeted at the Casa Kokopelli facility in Mesa were all between the ages of 15 to 17.

He was employed by Southwest Key, a Texas-based non-profit that is the largest organisation contracted by the US government to house undocumented immigrant children.

A number of the over 2,000 children who were separated from their parents after crossing the US-Mexico border without papers have been held at Southwest Key facilities.

Mr Pacheco's lawyer told US media the allegations include an "extraordinarily broad range of dates and lack of specificity".

The allegations predate the Trump administration's since-reversed "zero tolerance" policy, which led to the separation of illegal immigrant families.

This is the third known arrest of a Southwest Key staff member related to allegations of child molestation at a housing facility, US media report.

Earlier this week, a worker at a shelter in Phoenix was charged with molesting a 14-year-old girl.

According to ProPublica, which first reported on the Mesa, Arizona, case, another Southwest Key care worker was convicted in 2015 of molesting a Honduran boy at a shelter in Tucson, Arizona.



(video on site)

Child Advocacy Center hosts child abuse training

by Aybriel Beckham

DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) -- According to more than 3-million cases of child abuse are reported in the United States each year.

The Southeast Alabama Child Advocacy Center hosted its annual training for professionals.

Child abuse affects children around the world and professionals are trying to put a stop to it in the Wiregrass area.

The Child Justice Tasks Force partnered with Henry County and Houston County to get a grant and bring a nationally recognized expert to provide training.

Outreach Team Educator of the Southeast Alabama Child Advocacy Center Grace E. Geisler, M.S. said, "What she's teaching is today is helping us learn that certain adverse childhood experiences which include child abuse are things that affect children not only emotionally and mentally but physically as well it can actually cut their lifespan by several years. "

Geisler says child advocacy centers play an important role in helping the victims of child abuse.

"They were designed to help children not be re-traumatized by telling their story over and over and have one place where they can come and receive all the treatment and care that they need. "

There are many different forms of abuse physical, sexual, emotional and child neglect and all can be traumatic for a child.

Executive Director of Southeast Alabama Child Advocacy Center Terri Dubose said, "When the community decides to support children as a whole we reap the benefits long-term children are able to grow up into productive adults and reach their full potential and that benefits society at large. "

Which is why she believes this training is so important.

"The key is education informing yourself being aware of the warning signs are the steps that you can take to help an abused child or provide help need resources for them."

About fifty professionals attended the training to help them better assist children in the future.

The local advocacy center investigated forty-three new child abuse cases during the month of June.



Local non-profit fights child abuse by teaching law enforcement about how victims are ‘groomed'

by Mike Price

IDAHO FALLS — A local non-profit is teaching law enforcement about “grooming” in order to more effectively fight child abuse.

Grooming is a tactic used by child sex abusers to control their victims and keep themselves safe, often over long periods of time. Local business owner Matt Morgan was a victim of sexual abuse as a child. Now his foundation, Building Hope Today, is going to the Crimes Against Children Conference to teach thousands how to use their methods to successfully prosecute child sex abusers.

“We'll ask people, law enforcement or the communities and we'll say ‘do you know what grooming is?' and everyone will say ‘yeah I know what grooming is,' then we'll be like, ‘could you identify it if you saw it?'” Building Hope Today Chief Operating Officer Alethea Cox told “That's when it gets somber.”

Morgan and Building Hope Today focused their efforts on educating law enforcement and families about grooming after Morgan won a civil suit against his abuser by showing the jury how he had been groomed for abuse.

Bonneville County Prosecuting Attorney Daniel Clark, who is a Building Hope Today's board member, said Morgan's case against his abuser was the first of it's kind.

“The original thought was to sue (the abuser) for molesting (Morgan) as a child,” Clark said. “The problem is (Morgan) wasn't allowed to do that. The statute of limitations had run out.”

Morgan's attorneys decided to try something different and civilly sued the abuser for fraud based on the fact the individual had groomed Morgan for years. Morgan won the suit setting a precedent that can be used all over the country to successfully prosecute child sex abuse cases.

Clark said he prosecuted a case with the help of Thomas Tueller from Tueller Counseling. He said Tueller helped him understand exactly what grooming was and Clark was able to build a case off of grooming evidence.

“So I took Matt's civil concept that he did — first we've ever seen in the country,” Clark explained. “I then used it in a criminal case and we got a conviction.”

Since then, Building Hope Today has developed three sets of educational materials for victims, families and law enforcement. The Victim Track is designed to help victims heal. The Family Track teaches families the signs of grooming and how to protect children. Finally, the Legal Track shows those involved with the legal system how to successfully prosecute child sex abuse cases using grooming evidence.

“We have got to get better at successfully prosecuting child sex abuse cases,” Clark said. “Using the efforts of Building Hope Today will do that.”

Now, Building Hope Today is going to the largest conference on child abuse in the country.

The Dallas Crimes Against Children Conference has been going on for 30 years and last year boasted over 4,000 attendees. Attendees include government and nonprofit agencies such as law enforcement, prosecution, child protective services, social work, children's advocacy, therapy, probation, parole and medical professionals who seek to protect and help children.

“Tom Tueller is going to present twice on what grooming is and the steps of grooming,” Clark said about what Building Hope Today is doing at the conference. “Tom and I are going to tell our story about the (Jeffrey) Dunn case. On how we specifically used grooming to corroborate the victim's disclosure in a criminal case.”

Clark said he and one of Building Hope Today's national directors, Liz Bingham from Atlanta, Georgia are going to present on how to implement grooming into child sex abuse investigations and prosecutions.

“It's definitely going to be a fun opportunity for Building Hope Today and our community to really go in and help these different agencies,” Cox said.

Anyone who would like to get involved by downloading Building Hope Today's free Family Pack or would like to donate can do so at Building Hope Today's website




Guest View: By not saying something, we all allow child abuse

by Lindy Turner-Hardin

Blunt force trauma, causing death.

We all read this recently in an article about a 2-year old boy in Stockton who suffered this way at the hands of his mother's boyfriend.

I am reminded about the “Luck of the Draw” room in the Child Abuse Prevention Council's exhibit depicting child abuse, The Lisa Project, where the script reads: “You're a three-year old... you're gonna whimper one last time before he decides he's had enough and your small body is flung against the wall repeatedly, breaking your ribs, crushing your skull, and you're finally quiet. The police called it ‘Blunt force trauma.' And you're dead.”

I'd like to tell you that this is just a script based on imagination, but it's not. It's based on a real story. One that we hear too many times in our community. And as an advocate for children, I cannot understand how it is possible that somewhere, someone didn't hear something, or see something with this little boy and his caregivers that made them look twice, get a gut feeling that something wasn't right, and yet did nothing. And now he's dead.

This kind of treatment of children does not happen without someone noticing something. Even if it happens only in private, the signs and symptoms are going to be evident and exposed somewhere. And still, no one said or did anything?

What are we afraid of? Some might say that they are worried that CPS might be overly heavy-handed and remove the children. Or, that they've called CPS and nothing has been done. Or, that you don't want to get involved or be a busy-body. But all of these fears pale in comparison to reading about the death of that child in an article the next day.

We all want justice in this case. Punish the monster that did this to a child. I couldn't agree more. And punish the mother who allowed this to happen. Yes.

But the truth is that we all allowed this to happen. By not saying something. By not making the call to CPS. By not standing up for a 2-year old who could not stand up for himself. We allowed this to happen.

As a community, we must get involved. We must make the call. If you see something, please say something. And if you are afraid to call CPS or law enforcement, then call us — the Child Abuse Prevention Council. We are a nonprofit organization that will hold your hand through the process so that the people who can actually do something to protect a child can do their jobs. You can reach us 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at (209) 464-4524. Make the call. We must because our children are counting on us.

Lindy Turner-Hardin is executive director of the Child Abuse Prevention Council of San Joaquin County.



Suffield Town Employee Investigated After Delay in Reporting Suspected Child Abuse or Neglect

A Town of Suffield employee is being investigated after reporting an incident of suspected child abuse or neglect that happened last month.

According to town officials, the Parks and Recreation employee learned of the incident of suspected child abuse or neglect on July 3. The employee reported the incident to the Director of Parks and Recreation on Friday. The Suffield Police Department and Department of Children and Families were immediately notified.

After the employee reported the incident, town officials questioned whether the incident should have been reported sooner. The First Selectman's Office began an administrative investigation and has requested a criminal investigation into how long the incident took to be reported. The employee is on paid administrative leave during the investigation.

The incident did not happen at a town-related activity or program, town officials said.

Town officials have not released the employee's name. The investigation is ongoing and an arrest has not been made, police said.

Earlier in the week, Suffield police launched an investigation into allegations that school administrators and members of senior leadership of the Suffield Public School District, including the superintendent, failed to report suspected child abuse or neglect to the state Department of Children and Families. Law enforcement sources said the incident in question happened at the high school. A source said the incident in question involves a conversation between a student and school staff member about pornography.



Child abuse cases on the rise

by David Mazzenga

REGION—Changes in recent years to legislation governing the reporting and investigation of child abuse and other protective care measures have increased the degree of intake calls and investigations into child abuse and other youth services across the state.

Expanded definitions of what constitutes abuse have “at least come into the 20th century,” stated Lackawanna County Executive Director of You and Family Services, William Browning.

He explained this included things like removing a pain threshold as part of the child's examination to determine abuse.

Browning stated county and state operations are set to receive more federal aid from the Family First Prevention Services Act.

Browning noted another change slowly making its way into federal law is a reduction in child assignment to institutions and congregate care facilities.

“As a county, we don't believe in it,” he said, noting the facilities can be further sources of neglect and abuse which is not good for the children attending them.

Lackawanna strives to work with and support families to keep children in the care of relatives, said Browning.

Additionally, the county's Family Intersystems Team (FIT) works with community partners to help 14- to 21-year-olds who meet diagnostic criteria for serious mental illness or at risk of being placed in out of home care, get treatment they need.

The director stated many cases of child neglect and abuse are often tied into instances where substance abuse is prevalent in the household.

Browning stated it is his belief that addressing issues of addiction as a disease rather than a crime could help by keeping parents in the household and working with them to correct the behaviors that lead not only to their substance abuse, but to child neglect as well.

Keeping all these factors in context with each other is beneficial to treating them all, he said.

State numbers

According to the Child Protective Services (CPS) 2017 Annual Report, there were over 47,000 reports of child abuse in Pennsylvania last year, of which 4,836 were substantiated.

Of the substantiated cases, 60 percent involved female victims, 40 led to fatalities and 88 resulted in near fatalities.

The state also saw 163,852 General Protective Services reports filed in 2017, an increase of over 10,000 from 2016.

Over 80,000 reports were assessed, of which, 37,287 were proven valid.

The Northeast Regional Office, covering Wayne, Pike, Monroe, Northampton, Lehigh, Carbon, Schuykill, Luzerne, Lackawanna, Wyoming Susquehanna, Bradford, Sullivan and Tioga Counties, investigated 401 total reports, 19 of which were substantiated.

Of the 19 substantiated reports, the largest amount were sexual abuse, followed by physical abuse/bodily injury.

Ten substantiated incidents took place within residential services and 7 within a foster family care setting.

The largest amount of reports made and substantiated within the region was in Lehigh, with 228 and 10 respectively.

Breakdown by county

Lackawanna County

Lackawanna County had 716 total reports in 2017, 94 of which were substantiated.

As compared to past data, the number of substantiated reports in 2017 was fewer than those in 2015, but higher than in 2016.

These relations are reversed for number of total reports.

More than half (54.3%) of the 2017 substantiated reports had male victims.

Of the types of allegations put forth in substantiated reports, the most prominent (47.9%) were sexual abuse, followed by physical or bodily injury (32.5%).

Though the County saw no abuse-related fatalities in 2017, there was one near fatality of a male victim.

Lackawanna's total number of general protective service reports for 2017 was 3,373, of which, 2,355 were assessed and 1,069 were proven to be valid.

In 2017, Lackawanna County spent almost one million dollars more ($5.41 million total) on investigations and general protective service assessments than the year before.

Pike County

Compared to the much more populated Lackawanna County, Pike County saw far fewer reports.

In 2017, Pike County had a total of 146 reports of child abuse, only eight of which were substantiated.

Both these numbers are slightly lower than in 2015 and 2016.

Six of the eight victims in 2017 were female.

None of the Pike County cases led to fatalities or near fatalities.

Of the ten allegations set forth by the substantiated reports, four were for sexual abuse, three for physical abuse or bodily injury, two for serious mental injury and one for reasonable likelihood of bodily injury.

Child abuse aside, Pike County saw 549 general protective service reports, 181 of which were assessed and 69 were shown to be valid.

County expenditures for investigations and general protective service assessments remained the same between 2016 and 2017, hovering around $396,000, though state funding in Pike County increased from $232 million to $306 million.

Wayne County

Wayne County saw 210 suspected child abuse reports and 27 substantiated reports filed by CYS in 2017.

Both these figures are higher than were found in the two years prior.

Of the 27 substantiated cases, 18 victims were female and nine were male.

None of these resulted in fatalities or near fatalities.

Of the cases filed in Wayne County, 12 were suspected to be cases repeat abuse and two were substantiated as such.

In total, there were 70 child abuse allegations filed as a result of the 2017 substantiated reports.

More than 60 percent of the allegations were of sexual abuse.

In terms of general protective service reports, Wayne County saw 700, 491 of which were assessed and 198 proven to be valid.

Wayne County spent $514,000 on child abuse investigations, roughly $200,000 less than the year before.

State funding supplied for Wayne County increased from $232 million in 2016 to $306 million in 2017.

More information regarding statewide, child-protective efforts is available on the Department of Human Services website:



The Trauma of rehabilitation

The Trafficking Bill ignores communitybased approaches to rehabilitation and fails to comply with the SC decision that rehabilitation must be voluntary

by Prabha Kotiswaran

Last week, the country awoke to alarming new revelations in the sordid scandal of the routine sexual abuse of 34 girls between the ages of 7 and 14 in an NGO-run, state-funded Balika Grih in Muzaffarpur, Bihar. One girl is rumoured to have been murdered while others were sedated at night in the guise of medical treatment only to wake up to abdominal pains from rape. This sexual abuse may have involved exchange of money pocketed by the culprits.

Eleven women went missing from another home run by the same NGO. Reports of such horrific conditions in government- and NGO-run homes for juveniles, sex workers and beggars have become routine, leading us to interrogate the meaning and centrality of the right to rehabilitation enshrined in the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018, passed by the Lok Sabha.

Welfare through rehabilitation is the hallmark of the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act (ITPA), 1986. Adult women, whether in sex work voluntarily or not, are rescued from brothels and put up in protective homes, with or without their consent. In 'Raided', a recent study conducted by Maharashtra-based SANGRAM (Sampada Gramin Mahila Sanstha) and VAMP (Veshya Anyay Mukti Parishad), 193 of the 243 women interviewed were adult, consenting sex workers.

These homes ignore inmates' needs and are often abusive, leading women to commit suicide, to riot or to escape. Without legal resources to negotiate their freedom, they languish in homes for months, or even years. Upon release, they are unwelcome at home and return to a life of penury. As per 'Raided', 77 per cent of women return to sex work. Kimberly Walters and Vibhuti Ramachandran, both ethnographers of ITPA homes, report that women perceive such 'shelter-based detention' as an 'extended mode of trafficking', like the initial entry into sex work. Both authors note that the constitutionality of these ITPA provisions is suspect.

The 2018 Trafficking Bill is unfortunately baked in the crucible of the ITPA. Its paternalist provisions on raids, rescue and rehabilitation allow for a police officer, based solely on his belief, to raid and 'rescue' a trafficked person and conduct a medical examination irrespective of the victim's wishes. The victim is placed in a protection home for short-term relief and later in a rehabilitation home for an unspecified, but 'reasonable' period based on the order of a magistrate or child welfare committee.

Where an adult survivor applies to the magistrate for release, the magistrate may reject it if she believes that the request has not been made voluntarily; there is no provision for appeal. Survivors are to be repatriated, but the status of an unwilling survivor is unclear. The government may designate existing shelter homes, including those set up under the ITPA, for rehabilitation. There is thus substantial institutional and procedural overlap between the ITPA and the bill.

The trafficking bill aims to be visionary with compensation and comprehensive services, but it ignores community-based approaches to rehabilitation and fails to comply with the Supreme Court's decision in the Karmaskar case that rehabilitation must be voluntary. It ignores the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) guidelines on trafficking and human rights, which require that rescue operations not harm the rights and dignity of survivors, that they are not subjected to mandatory HIV test or be held in custody, and that they be allowed to participate in developing anti-trafficking interventions.

Given the carceral nature of rehabilitation, how can survivors possibly rejoice at the bill's proclaimed right to rehabilitation? In the absence of resources, the training of personnel and strict oversight over the unholy alliance of the state and the NGO 'rescue industry', the utopian vision of the bill for rehabilitation is likely to become a dystopian reality in which the failed ITPA model of rehabilitation is extended to 8 million 'modern slaves', including trafficked sex workers, bonded and child labourers, migrant workers, beggars, surrogates, wives from forced marriages, transgender persons and domestic workers.

Prabha Kotiswaran is Reader, Law and Social Justice at King's College, London


Catholic News

Lay woman's saga illustrates clerical sexual abuse of adults

by Elise Harris

Although most attention amid the clerical sexual abuse crisis has been on minors, recent cases of priests and bishops who have taken advantage of vulnerable adults or those under their guidance also have come to light.

One such case involves Theodore McCarrick, the 88-year-old retired Archbishop of Washington and Newark who resigned his post in the College of Cardinals following “credible and substantiated” accusations of sexual abuse of minors and multiple accounts of sexual misconduct with seminarians.

A second example is a recent report by the Associated Press detailing accounts of religious sisters and nuns who have either been sexually assaulted or raped by priests or bishops, and who have chosen to speak out as part of what has been dubbed the Church's own “#MeToo” movement.

In addition to these sisters, a nun in India also recently accused a bishop of rape, charging that other members of Church hierarchy in the country, such as Cardinal George Alencherry, head of the Syro-Malabar Church in India, knew about it and did nothing.

Yet another example, only now coming to light, is the case of Rachel Mastrogiacomo, who, at age 24, was raped in Satanic cult-like fashion by a Catholic priest as he celebrated a private Mass for the two of them. And, she says, when she came forward to the Church, they covered it up.

Currently pursuing a lifelong goal of serving as a lay missionary in Africa alongside her husband and recently adopted daughter, Mastrogiacomo's dream comes at the end of a nightmare that began in 2009 when she was a 23-year-old studying theology in Rome, and which culminated in May with her rapist pleading guilty to criminal charges of sexual assault.

Mastrogiacomo spoke to Crux about her experience. The Diocese of San Diego, which handled the canonical dimension of her case, did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

An old trauma opens the door to fresh wounds

Mastrogiacomo said she grew up in a deeply pious Catholic family. As a child she had an especially close relationship with her father, who attended daily Mass. In many ways, she said, her relationship with her father was the foundation of everything to which she would later aspire, including her faith life and her desire to be a missionary.

In 1999, when she was 13, her father died after suffering a massive heart attack while working out at the gym, leaving a void that she would eventually seek to fill through the spiritual fatherhood offered by priests around her.

“My dad was my world,” Mastrogiacomo told Crux . “This loss rocked me to the core and left me overwhelmed by the thought of navigating the rest of my life without his guidance.”

Explaining that her father had died shortly after a “monumental moment” in her life, in which he had taken her to the ocean and told her that the secret to finding joy even amid life's sorrows is a relationship with the Holy Spirit, Mastrogiacomo said she became heavily involved in Church activities, attending youth groups or catechesis multiple times a week, and was surrounded by “marvelous and trustworthy” priests.

After graduating high school, she decided to pursue studies in theology at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, where she met a man she described as a “holy priest” who offered her “the best of the best” spiritual guidance. After that experience, Mastrogiacomo said she left the university “thinking I could trust all priests in the way I had trusted a saint.”

“In my pursuit of holiness, I fell into the trap that is clericalism,” she said. Describing herself as “naïve” at the time, she said that she put priests on “pedestals,” and saw them “as pure and infallible vessels, princely middlemen between myself and the most high God.”

Mastrogiacomo said she now understands that alongside this power differential comes “a whole lot of room for abuse,” adding that “respecting the office of the priesthood is one thing; clerical chauvinism, on the other hand, is a disease inside the body of the Church.”

It wasn't until she came to Rome in 2009, she said, to pursue graduate studies in spirituality at the University of St. Thomas Aquinas, also called the “Angelicum,” that she began to experience how this power differential can turn bad.


After arriving in Rome, Mastrogiacomo met several seminarians studying at the Pontifical North American College (NAC), among them a fourth-year student, by then already a deacon, by the name of Jacob Bertrand. The two became friends, and Bertrand would jest that they were like the biblical pair of Jacob and Rachel, a couple who married quickly after falling in love and gave birth to 12 sons who would later form the 12 tribes of Israel.

In one of their first conversations, Mastrogiacomo said Bertrand told her he felt “called” to share his sexual past with her and recounted intimate details of previous relationships before entering the seminary.  At the time, Mastrogiacomo said, the conversation didn't raise any red flags, as she assumed it was an invitation to reflect on the Church's teaching on chastity since she was a virgin and he was pursuing a vocation to the celibate priesthood.

Bertrand also gave her two of his personal journals to read, saying he felt that God was asking him to do so. Mastrogiacomo said that although she did not want to read the journals, she felt compelled to appease Bertrand.

Around this time, she began speaking with a new spiritual director, whom she referred to as “Father Tom,” who told her she was “mystically pregnant” and would eventually be the foundress of something that would be of great benefit for the Church. He also confessed to finding her attractive in a “non-distorted” way, and said she had a gift that would help priests to be stronger.

Though puzzled by what she was told, since the concept of “mystical pregnancy” is not found anywhere in Church tradition, Mastrogiacomo - who was fascinated by the Church's concept of mysticism - said she trusted her spiritual director and believed he was leading her down the right path, where her vocation would soon “be born.”

However, after a few months she began to feel misunderstood and pressured to become a nun, despite her strong desire to get married, so she stopped speaking with Father Tom and contemplated leaving Rome altogether. She confided this to Bertrand, who convinced her to stay and offered to be her new spiritual director.

Mastrogiacomo eventually agreed, and in January 2010 began meeting Bertrand on a weekly basis for “holy conversation.” He also developed a strong relationship with her family, and, aware of Mastrogiacomo's interest in mysticism, told her that they had a special, pure spiritual bond in which she was like the Virgin Mary and he was like Saint Joseph, her “most chaste spouse.”

At one point, he asked for her own personal journal, saying it would help him to know and guide her better in the pursuit of her vocation. Though she didn't want to give it to him, Mastrogiacomo said that she again trusted her spiritual guide and handed him the book, in which she had written about her desire to get married and her hopes that she might meet her future husband during her time studying abroad.

A few weeks later Bertrand told her he believed that he was “the one” she was supposed to meet, and that God was calling her to a mystical union. Shortly after, he took her to a chapel inside the Jesuit-run Gesu parish in Rome, where he made a “spiritual proposal” by holding her hand and asking her to trust him.

Though something she said she couldn't fully describe felt off, Mastrogiacomo said that by that time she had grown to trust Bertrand unquestioningly, and assumed she was supposed to be a type of “spiritual mother” who would help accompany him to his ordination to the priesthood.

It was during this time, she said, that Bertrand began to subtly introduce physical touch and sexuality during their meetings, saying it was all “in the name of God.” He had an in-depth background of St. John Paul II's teachings on the “Theology of the Body,” she said, explaining that his knowledge and articulation of this teaching made what he said convincing.

Shortly after their “spiritual proposal,” in one of their weekly conversations Bertrand told Mastrogiacomo that he had a sensual vision of the two of them during prayer, which he said had been “imprinted” on his mind by the Holy Spirit. Mastrogiacomo said that by this point, she had been “completely brainwashed” and believed his vision came from God. So after discussing the vision and determining that it was a sign, she and Bertrand began speaking about when a “mystical marriage” between them could take place.

In June of that year Mastrogiacomo flew with Bertrand to San Diego for his priestly ordination. The flight was arranged by Bertrand after speaking with Mastrogiacomo's mother, who didn't want her daughter to travel alone. After the ordination, Mastrogiacomo returned home to Minnesota, where another mutual friend was being ordained. Bertrand later joined her there for the ordination and arranged to stay at her family home, as he had developed a very close relationship with her family, particularly her mother.

Mastrogiacomo said at the time she had become convinced that she and Bertrand had a spiritual connection that transcended human boundaries, so when the newly-minted priest arrived naked to a private Mass he offered for the two of them in her family's cabin and expected her to do the same, she trusted him, assuming it was part of fulfilling the spiritual union God was calling them to.

“To turn back at that point would have felt like I was turning my back on God,” she said. Any resistance, in her mind, was akin to “demonstrating doubt rather than faith.”

It was during the Mass, she told Crux , that Bertrand sexually assaulted her while celebrating the liturgy.

However, Bertrand said afterward that he did not think they had completely fulfilled God's will, so a few days later he offered another Mass in which he assaulted Mastrogiacomo again as part of the liturgy, calling it “the second holiest sacrifice next to Jesus and Mary on Calvary.” After the second Mass, Bertrand said the “mystical union” between he and Mastrogiacomo was something others would not understand, so they had to keep it secret, and he pushed her to continue celebrating their spiritual union with more such “Masses.”

Mastrogiacomo said that while still convinced she had acted in obedience to God, she was confused as to why more “Masses” were necessary if their union had already been fulfilled. When she told Bertrand that she believed they had already fulfilled God's will, he was upset, she said, but agreed after some discussion to respect her wishes and refrain.

Bertrand then moved back to San Diego to begin his official ministry as a priest for the diocese, and Mastrogiacomo continued her studies. At one point, he sent her a check for $1,000 as “tithing money” for a graduate course she wanted to enroll in, and the two moved on with their lives.

Scales fall

Speaking over a spotty Skype connection from the basement of her home, Mastrogiacomo couldn't look into the screen to make eye contact as she recounted the abuse.

“For years, my psyche simply could not handle reality. I lived an overly religious life and practiced my faith with unprecedented zeal, but I was psychologically trapped in what now seems to have been a robotic kind of state,” she said.

It was about a year and a half later when Mastrogiacomo really began to question what had happened. At that point, she said, she started to struggle with anxiety and had doubts about what Bertrand had done to her, wondering if it was sinful.

After bumping into him at a celebration for a mutual friend, she expressed her concerns. Not only did his response further validate her doubts, but she said Bertrand laid his hands on her head and prayed for her, comparing her to the Virgin Mary.

In a phone conversation that happened shortly after, he again swore her to secrecy, saying “the devil tempts me to think that you will tell somebody and ruin my ministry.”

After that experience, and after promising to stay silent, Mastrogiacomo said she became increasingly confused about her vocation and began to spiral after approaching several religious communities, only to experience more fog than clarity.

She said her crisis eventually became unbearable during a trip to St. Louis in April 2012, where she was visiting the religious sisters of the Missionaries of Charity order founded by St. Theresa of Calcutta, which she was contemplating joining.

She broke her silence a month later, nearly two years after the assault, telling a close friend the full story and how she was struggling to understand what to make of what happened, and what she was being asked in terms of vocation.

Though at first she agonized over the thought that opening up would result in the loss of her relationship with God, the moment everything came to light, “it felt like scales were falling from my eyes.”

“I experienced a taste of mortification and horror beyond my ability to withstand,” she said, explaining that while the denial was over, “I was still in survival mode and remained pretty numb for an additional couple of years.”

When she eventually sought professional help to process and overcome the trauma, “all hell broke loose.” Not only did she suffer panic attacks as a result of PTSD after the rape, but at one point she developed a phobia of priests and churches, and for a time had to stop attending Mass due to the hysteria she would experience during the liturgy.

But despite the difficulty of her process of recovery, “it was worth it,” she said. “I am no longer a victim; I am a survivor, and I am now able to help others in their recovery.”

It wasn't until September 2014 that she finally decided to come forward about the assault at the urging of a representative from the Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests (SNAP), who told her to bring the assault to civil authorities.

However, still convinced that the “holy” thing to do was to protect the Church, Mastrogiacomo said she instead opted for an ecclesial process and came forward to the Diocese of Raleigh, North Carolina, in hopes of having a quiet settlement in which she was offered counseling services and Bertrand removed from ministry.

Mastrogiacomo said the Diocese of San Diego, where Bertrand served, agreed to pay for her therapy, and that after providing a written statement to a representative of the Raleigh diocese, the statement was then sent to representatives from San Diego.

After the statement was received, Mastrogiacomo was informed that Bertrand had confessed in the presence of Monsignor Steven Callahan - who was serving as apostolic administrator of San Diego at the time, as the bishop, Cirilo Flores, had passed away shortly before - to having made sexual contact with her in the context of the Mass.

(Callahan, who at one point was the Victims Assistance Coordinator for the diocese and who is currently listed on their website as the Judicial Vicar for the diocesan tribunal, has faced heat for admitting in a 2007 court deposition to destroying documents in the early '90s that implicated sexual abuse on the part of a fellow priest, arguing that he was acting in accordance with canon law).

Once Bertrand made his confession, Mastrogiacomo said she thought the case was closed and wanted to move on with her life. However, not only was she troubled to read in his parish bulletin for Nov. 30, 2014, that his leave of absence from St. Sophia parish was the result of emotional trauma related to an arson attack on the parish rectory, but he resurfaced less than six months later, with a March 29, 2015, bulletin announcing his transfer to another parish.

As of 2016, Bertrand was stationed as the associate pastor of St. Vincent Catholic Church and St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, which also runs a school.

After seeing that Bertrand was back in ministry, and after having taken steps to process and heal from her trauma, Mastrogiacomo came forward to civil law enforcement officials in Minnesota with charges of rape in April 2016, almost four years after her assault.

“I decided to pursue criminal proceedings when I realized that Father Jacob Bertrand had continued access to vulnerable young women and children,” she said, noting that since rape is a felony crime, “I felt it was my duty as a citizen to file a police report, especially since the Catholic Church continued to mishandle the situation for years.”

Despite her hesitancy to damage the Church's reputation two years prior, Mastrogiacomo said in the time that elapsed she came to realize that “exposing the horror of my perpetrator's crime was in reality a severe mercy toward him.”

“I also came to understand that shining a bright light on the cover-up and mishandling of clergy sex crimes does not mean that I am against the Catholic Church, but rather that I am deeply for her.”

The verdict

After Mastrogiacomo came forward to civil authorities in April 2016, the Dakota County Attorney's prosecutor, Heather Pipenhagen, decided in October 2016, after conducting an in-depth investigation, to press criminal charges against Bertrand. (Dakota County is located in Minnesota.)

When the Diocese of San Diego was informed of the charges and asked to hand over their records on Bertrand, they refused, Mastrogiacomo said.

The judicial process culminated in a criminal hearing for Bertrand Jan. 22, 2018, in which he accepted an agreement to plead guilty to a charge of rape in exchange for not having to serve jail time. His official sentencing happened in May, during which Mastrogiacomo was allowed to read an emotional victim's impact statement detailing her experience.

For Mastrogiacomo, “a lifetime in prison wouldn't suffice” to do justice for Bertrand's crime, but she was relieved to hear the guilty plea. For now, she said, “I leave justice in the hands of almighty God, and I am at peace knowing that I've done everything in my power to shine a bright light on this horrible darkness.”

There are no words to describe what it feels like “to be raped by God” and to see that instead of pursuing justice, “the Church for which you would die covers it up,” she said.

Yet despite this, and even though for a time she could not look priests in the eye, Mastrogiacomo insists that without her faith, “I am certain I would not be alive today.”

Although the Mass, which she held especially sacred, was used as a “weapon” against her, Mastrogiacomo she did not to want to give her rapist the power to take from her what she held most dear, which was her faith in God and her love for the Eucharist.

Thanks to a process of spiritual healing she underwent with the help of the Virgin Mary, she said she has regained “my dignity as a woman and a child of God.”

“I was on the brink of complete despair. I did not know how I was going to go on living, and it seemed that all hope was gone. My life was spinning out of control,” she said, explaining that it was when she was at her worst that “the reckless love of God came like a rushing wind into my paralyzed life.”

“He fought the war that raged around me when I was practically lifeless,” she said.

Speaking to all those who have experienced clerical abuse and who feel betrayed by the Catholic Church, she said that she understands the pain and the agony, but stressed that no matter what, God loves them “with an undying love” and is waiting to bring comfort and healing.

Going forward, Mastrogiacomo said she wants to be what Henri Nouwen called a “wounded healer,” using her trauma as a resource to draw from in her and her husband's work as lay missionaries in Uganda, where they often come face to face with injustice.

Mastrogiacomo said she is grateful not because she was raped, but because through her experience, “I am better equipped to compassionately serve because of my own experience of injustice, powerlessness and innocence destroyed.”

“I have discovered that my deepest wounds are my pot of gold as I seek to live a life in solidarity with the oppressed and marginalized,” she said.

Although she voiced fear of backlash and shaming for deciding to come forward, Mastrogiacomo said she wants to raise awareness of the problem of clerical abuse, “particularly adult victims who suffer in silence.”

Ultimately, she said she decided to come forward publicly for her daughter, who was adopted in February.

“We don't keep secrets, we bring things to the light, we forgive and we recover,” she said, adding that she wants to end the cycle of silence for the abused. She voiced hope that her daughter would also “have the courage to come forward if God-forbid she was ever in my shoes.”



from Baptist News Global

Our ‘sin of the bystander' enables sexual abuse. We must change


Until lions start writing down their own stories, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter.” – African Proverb

Telling the story of one's sexual abuse is an excruciatingly painful act. To open the door on what may have been for years a secret is to open the door of the soul. When one lives under the heavy weight of sexual abuse, telling can exacerbate tucked-away trauma. So it is that survivors of sexual abuse or harassment keep the secret of what happened to them.

More often than not, the bystanders who surrounded them during the abuse also remained silent. Choosing to be self-appointed protectors of the status quo, they felt compelled to protect reputations, preserve relationships, ensure the good standing of the church or institution, avoid stigma, create a sense of false comfort, and minimize the truth of the victim's abuse story.

Bystanders can no longer stand in this place of complicity. To do so is, quite simply, to sin.

The bystander, of course, is not the one who perpetrates the sexual abuse, but the bystander often commits his or her own brand of abuse by witnessing, suspecting or learning about a victim of abuse and choosing to remain silent . The damning truth is that followers of Jesus in the way of truth and justice are anything but guiltless when it comes to the sin of the bystander. Could it be that we have contributed to cultures that tolerate sexual violation in our churches, in our workplaces and on our college campuses? Could it be that we have colluded to avoid the dire consequences that come with revealing the truth? Could it be that our inadequate or inappropriate response to sexual violence feeds the sin of the bystander?

Baptist News Global recently reported about a “credibly accused sexual predator” who had been employed by several Baptist organizations: “With the ink barely dry on a Southern Baptist Convention resolution apologizing for past failures in handling abuse allegations, the SBC International Mission Board is facing charges that it recently allowed a credibly accused sexual predator to slip through the cracks.”

In this disheartening story, the bystander sin falls on the IMB and its general counsel, Derek Gaubatz, who in 2007 counseled the alleged victim “to let it go” and to forgive her abuser.

Bystander silence, and even complicity with the abuser, is not uncommon. The same story referenced another incident in which a pastor and a seminary president signed a statement of support for a pastor friend named in a lawsuit alleging “systematic concealment of abuse,” a phrase should make us cringe. “Concealment of abuse” breeds a culture of violence and gives rise to shattered relationships that are almost impossible to mend.

Bystander sin in all its shame also exists within families. The reasons family members protect abusers are virtually endless: bringing shame to the family, ruining a person's reputation, protecting the abuser's family relationships, wanting to avoid the additional pain created by law enforcement and the courts, believing that the victim must have encouraged the abuse, or simply choosing denial because believing the truth would hurt too much.

I was there as a child, in that place of holding the pain of abuse alone because the people in my world would not, or could not, believe my story. My mother needed to believe she did not hear me. My aunt could not let me finish the first sentence. Those two responses silenced me for more than 20 years and sentenced me to a life of secrets and lies. When abuse happened again and again, with other perpetrators, I was well conditioned to respond with silent assent.

Do I blame the bystanders in my life? In some ways, yes. Theirs was a sin of failure to protect, but it was also a sin born of their own fear and denial. In addition, it was a sin borne of a societal reality that demanded the illusion of respectability and morality. Social norms have the power to excuse the perpetrator of abuse, absolve the bystander who refuses to get involved and, tragically, blame the victim.

“All of us are bystanders who have choices about what we see and hear and about how we respond.”

Into this societal illusion that for decades held victims as silent hostages, the #MeToo movement shouted “enough!” Stories that came to light began to change the landscape for victims. It was also the kind of change that affected both perpetrators and bystanders in unprecedented ways. Abusers had secured their power from the belief that victims – and bystanders – would keep the secret. Now, literally around the world, those who cried out “Me too!” created a new group of survivors who at last were finding their voices. As a result of this societal shift, churches, universities, businesses and other institutions were being called to account. At the same time, the light also fell on the apathy of the bystanders.

The truth is that all of us are bystanders who have choices about what we see and hear, and most importantly, about how we respond. Remedies remain complex, but there are pathways that may lead to healing:

  • Ensure at all times that children are in safe places with safe people.

  • Do not minimize the possibility that anyone can be abusive.

  • Pay attention to persons who seem troubled, anxious or afraid.

  • Refuse to be complicit in keeping an abuser's secret.

  • Speak and act for the rights of the victim.

  • Do not interrogate the victimized person; believe their story without question.

The church's calling is the ministry of compassion, understanding and spiritual care. This kind of vigilant bystander response hopefully envisions an environment where sexual abuse does not happen.

The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse includes an insightful and poignant suggestion from Emily Levy, an adult survivor of child sexual abuse: “Tell it as a healing ritual, as an epitaph, as discovered and interpreted seven generations from now. Tell it so it will never happen again.”

Generations will hold us accountable for failing to protect those who suffered sexual violence, but if we listen intently to the voices who speak their truth, we might just usher in a new day that renounces silence and secrecy. As people called to partner with God in the redemption of all creation, can we imagine a world where bystanders consciously choose to see and hear, refuse to keep the secret, empower survivors of sexual abuse to tell their stories and in their telling open wide the windows of truth and healing?

Yes! We can – we must – imagine such a world. God's church can lean into repentance and confess our participation, directly or indirectly, in the sin of the bystander. Doing so will begin to redress the indignities and injustices endured by adult survivors struggling with buried pain and by children who have lost their innocence. When we arise as God's emissaries of healing and hope, we will finally be able to comfort victims who live their lives in the darkness, to honor them when they tell their stories and to walk with them toward the light.

With them, we can “tell it as a healing ritual.”


United Kingdom

How support services for victims of sexual abuse are helping men reveal their stories

'Some heterosexual males fear that reporting sexual assault or rape means they will be seen as being gay'

by David Whitfield

In just eight weeks' time, a major inquiry into historic sexual abuse of children in Nottinghamshire begins hearing evidence.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse will look at whether Nottingham City and Nottinghamshire County Councils failed to protect children in their care from sexual abuse and exploitation.

Publicity around the three-week hearing could lead to more victims of abuse coming forward to report what happened to them.

And although the evidence so far makes clear that both sexes have been victims of abuse, there are particular issues around persuading men to reveal crimes committed against them.

Detective Inspector Pam Dowson, of Public Protection at Nottinghamshire Police, said: "We have a lower volume of rapes and sexual assaults reported by males compared to females.

"We are aware that some male victims find it difficult to come forward because of fears of how they will be perceived. Some heterosexual males fear that reporting sexual assault or rape means they will be seen as being gay."

But she added: "The sex or sexual orientation of their attacker is absolutely irrelevant to their own sexual orientation."

Sharon Rose is the sexual violence engagement manager working for the office of the Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner, and her role - which she has been in since September 2017 - is to look at gaps in services for survivors of abuse, and any difficulties they might have in accessing those services.

She said: “One of the gaps in service was that men didn't feel services were there to meet their needs - they were predominantly women's services.

“There has been a tailored response to this. Research has established that there are differences in the way men engage with services.

“For example, men might want to have contact on an anonymous basis for longer. So being able to recognise that, and provide telephone support on an anonymous basis, helps develop that relationship.”

In numbers: Child abuse investigations in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire

The investigations into historic abuse in children's homes and foster care in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire have been running since 2010. As of January 2018, these are the key statistics:

832 - The number of allegations of historic sexual or physical abuse that have been made so far

559 - The number of suspects identified

355 - The number of people who have come forward with allegations

90 - The number of ‘core participants' identified for the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse hearing for Nottinghamshire Councils (this includes 83 complainants who allege that they were sexually abused in the care of the two councils.)

22 - The number of children's homes in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire being investigated by police (this includes one linked home in Derbyshire)

15 - The number of days in October the Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse hearing for Nottinghamshire Councils is due to last

14 - The number of people who have been charged by police. Five defendants are yet to come to court

7 - The number of people who have so far been convicted (three of these are for abuse carried out in children's homes; four are for other offences)

2 - The number of defendants who have been found not guilty

Her main aim is to ensure that anyone who feels they need help, is able to access it.

“It's very difficult to know if we have reached everybody. For me, the main focus is to get the message out there, as far and wide as we can.

“Some survivors are very vocal about their needs. Equally, there are survivors who have been silenced by their abuse, and these are the ones we want to reach.”

It is not the only support available locally to survivors of abuse. The Survivor Support Service was set up in July last year to help adult survivors of child sexual abuse. It helps people who were abused in an institutional setting or who reported child sexual abuse to a person in authority and were ignored or disbelieved.

And last month two new services for victims of sexual violence were launched after being given funding of £800,000 over the next two years.

The Independent Sexual Violence Adviser (ISVA) and Children's Independent Sexual Violence Adviser (CHISVA) services offer practical and emotional support to victims of crime who have been raped or sexually assaulted.

DI Dowson added: "Rape and sexual assault includes any unwanted sexual acts. Even if you agree to have sex with someone, you have the right to say 'no' at any time. If you are sexually assaulted or raped, it is never your fault - you are not responsible for the actions of others.

"We would urge anyone who has been affected to come forward. We always treat rape and sexual assault seriously and the survivors with compassion and understanding. Our Specialist Referral Unit and healthcare providers are there for both male and female survivors.

"Historic offences do present some evidential challenges and can take longer to investigate, however we have had some recent successes at court."

An NSPCC spokesman said: “The football abuse scandal highlighted that in days gone by attitudes towards sexual abuse made it difficult for victims to come forward, for fear they would not be listened to.

“Cultural norms around gender may have made it more difficult for boys and men in particular to seek help and report abuse they had suffered.

“And we know that even today girls are nearly four times more likely than boys to contact Childline for support.

“The NSPCC is here to help anyone who has suffered sexual abuse in childhood, and our NSPCC Helpline is available 24 hours a day to report non-recent abuse on 0808 800 5000.”

*Adult victims and survivors of sexual abuse who are seeking help can contact the ISVA service on 0115 941 0440 or by email . They can also refer themselves online at

* Children and Young People wanting help and support should first contact East Midlands Children and Young People's Sexual Assault Service, who will assess and refer onto the CHISVA service. The 24-hour helpline number is 0800 183 0023



Dealing with Anger as an Abuse Survivor

by Ruby Chaos

Anger is one of those difficult emotions, for many people. It is difficult to know what to do with it, where to direct it and what forms that rage may take; this sense of difficulty is amplified even further if the focus of your anger and rage is unavailable. Anger is an emotion that I am particularly familiar with, so in this article I am going to write about some methods of dealing with anger that I use, and some of the reasoning and causes behind that anger, including some simple exercises that help me identify that reasoning and the best methods of dealing with anger.

How Do I Experience Anger?

First, what is anger, actually? In my experience, it can be difficult for many survivors to truly understand the differences between various emotions, particularly emotions that they may not be used to experiencing. This can often make the experiencing of unfamiliar emotions very confusing and difficult, further adding to the process of not knowing how to deal with said emotions. The way anger feels varies from person to person, I personally experience it as a feeling of extreme annoyance that leads you to want to do something to fix the situation. Anger is an emotion which has the primary intention of solving whatever problem or situation it is that we are facing. It gives us the energy and the strength to both motivate us and to allow us to face that problem in the hopes of resolving it. This is the purpose and general feeling of anger, but as said, the feelings of anger can vary from person to person. Some people describe it as red and hot, some as white, some as something big and overwhelming, some as something narrow and focused. The following exercises might help you identify what anger means to you. These are the methods I often use to check where I am and how I am feeling. I find these really useful and I am hoping that they may help some of you, too.

Exercise: What is Anger?

This exercise can be done in a number of ways, whichever feels most comfortable to you. For all of these exercises, it does not matter if it does not make sense, how it is spelt or whether it is "right" or "wrong"; just write/draw/paint/create whatever first comes to mind, do not re-word it or start again, just keep it as it is and keep going until you cannot think of anything else.

  • Writing - This is a patterning exercise. This basically means that you write the same phrase over and over, writing whatever comes to mind when you hear that phrase. The phrase for this particular patterning exercise is: "Anger is…"

    • Example:

      Anger is scary.
      Anger is white and blinding.
      Anger is hitting things.
      Anger is taking it out on someone else.
      Anger is what I feel when I hurt myself.
      Anger is when you can't fix something.
      Anger is saying mean things to people.

  • Drawing - In this exercise, all you have to do is think about the word "Anger" and draw/paint/sketch whatever comes to mind

  • Collage - Similar to the drawing exercise, think of the word "Anger" and create whatever comes to mind.

  • Any other method that works for you - Using whatever format is most comfortable to you; explore what anger means to you.

After you have done this, feel free to share your work with others, or keep it to yourself and do give yourself time to consider why you may have come up with what you did. I find that doing this really helps me understand what anger feels like and it means that I can recognize it when I feel it. When I am able to recognize that I am feeling angry then I am able to try and find the root cause of that anger and then find the best way to deal with feeling like that. This means that I do not get stuck in that anger for a long period of time which can leave me feeling tired, drained and even more angry because I have not been able to get rid of those feelings or find a solution to whatever has caused it.

Feeling angry for a long period of time can have really negative consequences on both your emotional and physical wellbeing. For me, it leaves me feeling sick and unable to eat and completely unable to focus; it causes me to lash out at those around me, sometimes physically but mostly verbally which can seriously affect my relationships with friends and supporters. It also leaves me feeling so stuck and so overwhelmed that I end up using self-injury to try and deal with it. Or I end up having a tantrum or crying or going to sleep to make it go away. It can be different for everyone. It can even cause things like high blood pressure, so addressing our anger is of extreme importance so as to keep our physical and emotional health topped up.

Where Does my Anger Come From?

I personally find it very helpful to work out where my anger has come from so I can address the real emotions behind it. I am going to talk very personally and honestly in this section, so please be aware. I do not usually talk in such a personal and honest way and I do not usually acknowledge that there is anything more to me than anger, particularly when it comes to acknowledging that there was any hurt, so writing this is somewhat difficult for me so I would appreciate a degree of sensitivity.

Many people believe that they are just angry at the situation, but I personally believe that for abuse survivors especially - there always might be more personalized and internal emotions laying beneath that anger and that they are actually a result of something that is entirely different or separate from the situation that I initially think has caused the anger. This is something that I have felt for a long time, but it took me a while to find anything that suggested the same. Now I know that there has been lots of research that looks at the emotions underlying anger. Read this article for more information.

I believe that underneath anger there is a corresponding fear and beneath that a hurt. We often hear how people lash out because of fear, but in my experience, that fear is usually compounded by a relevant hurt. Here is a simple diagram that shows that flow of emotions and afterwards I will give a few examples of my personal experiences with anger and how I have used this diagram to discover the root causes of my anger.

Alright, so now I am going to get somewhat personal and discuss the last time that I felt angry and how thinking about this diagram helped me to address why I was feeling that anger and what the real emotions beneath it were. This contains some triggering content in terms of rape, manipulation and domestic abuse.

Yesterday, I discovered that I had less money than I thought I had left in our bank account. I ended up getting really angry, storming round the flat, yelling and wanting to punch and hit things. I felt like there was nothing at all that I could do about it; that there was no way that I could get me anymore money before I next got paid and that I had to find a way to make what I had left last me for another week. After I spent a good hour storming round and feeling more and more angry and after I had finally dealt with the actual emotion (I will explain how I did that, later) I sat myself down and figured out what exactly was causing my anger so I could let myself deal with the real issue. You see, it was a stupid thing to get so angry about and knowing that was making me angrier. I know that I have enough food to manage till I next get some money and that I can cycle anywhere that I need to be and that all the bills are paid. The only real thing that the lack of money would affect was my smoking habit.

So, why was I so angry?

So, I sat down to think about it and even though at the time I could not remember the exact diagram, I instinctively used it. I realized that there was stuff beneath the anger. I knew that one of my options was to ask a friend for a little money until I get some again, but I realized that I did not want to do that and I was actually scared of doing that. I realized that I was scared of asking for money and that people may just think that I was bad with money and had no self-control. I had found the fear beneath my anger. Then I thought about why I was so scared of asking for money. It is a fairly normal thing, people do it on a regular basis and even though they might be embarrassed about doing it and even though they may not really want to, they are not really scared, are they? I would only have been asking for a small amount and I know that I would have been able to pay it back within a week. So, why was I so scared, what was there beneath that?

I then realized what it was, what was truly causing my anger. My ex-partner controlled many aspects of my life. This included money. I was the main bread-winner, so to speak, I had a much larger income which I worked extremely hard for whereas my ex was a benefits cheat and did nothing with most of his time. He controlled my bank accounts and decided what money was spent on. Each time I got paid, I would desperately try to put enough money away for bills and for necessities, but each time the ex would take it and spend it on whatever he decided was important. This meant that on frequent occasions, I would have to ask for money from family just so that I could avoid going into debt or being made homeless. This asking for money often came with either a lecture on being bad with money or with a price. If I had reached the point where I would have to ask my mother for money then it meant that I were to be raped by either her or her partner before I could have any.

This hurt; this being used just so I could have enough money to survive was the real cause of my anger, yesterday. It was not that I could not buy cigarettes; it was not that I would have to cycle to see our therapist on Monday; it was not that I would be extremely limited in my food choices for the next week. It was because I was scared. I was scared of having to relive that same hurt again; I was scared of what the consequences of not having money would be. I was angry because I have seen what money has caused to me that it had resulted in more rape and more traumas. I was angry because money has been used to hurt me. I was not angry about cigarettes, but about the hurt.

Acknowledging this hurt allowed me to really understand why I was so angry and it allowed me to address the situation with a clearer mind. It also allowed me to really deal with the emotional anger (as going through this thought process had led me to storming round the flat again, this time knowing why I was so angry).

Understanding where our anger comes from can help us in a number of ways. It can help us find the best way to immediately deal with the anger, it can help us have a clearer mind to deal with the situation that the anger originally seemed to stem from and knowing the hurt behind it can allow us to deal with that hurt and heal from it, in whatever form that may take.

Exercise: Why Am I Angry?

Think about the last time you were angry, write about it or draw it if that helps you and then, using the diagram above, think about what your possible fears and hurts were beneath that anger. I have never come across an example of anger with anybody that I have spoken with about this method that has not had a root in a fear and a hurt; some even have roots in many fears and hurts, that is okay, just as long as you know what they are. I find doing this extremely useful and it really helps me to work out where to go to next. There are many articles on healing from hurts available and you can always speak to people in the forums about that.

Dealing with Angry Emotions

The final part of this article is focusing on different ways of dealing with the anger and getting rid of those emotions. This is not an exhaustive list, everybody will have their own methods and ways that feel right to them and these are just some suggestions based on the ways that help me deal with feeling angry and get rid of angry emotions. I hope that you are able to find your own releases from anger; whether it is one from this list or something else that helps you.

  • Physical Exercise - This one is my personal favourite. I find that exercise burns a lot of energy, both physical and emotional energy. It takes away my desire to hit things and makes me feel so much calmer. If I am feeling particularly angry and want to engage with hitting and kicking things then I will do some kickboxing training which I find to be a great release.

  • Ranting and Venting - Sometimes it really helps to just get things off your chest. I rant and vent all the time to anybody that will listen, even if I know that they have heard it a million times before. I rant in person, in blogs, in the chat room, on the forums, in instant messengers; literally anywhere and everywhere!

  • Writing - I sometimes try to write so I don't have to hurt myself. Because I know that Self-Injury is a bad one and that I shouldn't do it but when I get angry I get scared of taking it out on other people in case they end up hurting me so I end up hurting myself. So instead of going down that road I either write in my diary or I write stories or poems. Sometimes they're angry or sometimes they're just about anything but it stops me from feeling angry ‘cause I find it so relaxing. By the way, this one can apply to any form of creative expression, be it drawing, painting, playing an instrument, making a collage etc.

  • Doing something nice for you - I sometimes try and do something nice for myself to stop feeling angry. Sometimes it is something as simple as drinking hot chocolate and reading a good book (for example, The Chronicles of Narnia) or taking a long hot bath with candles or whatever else it is that makes you feel nice and calmer.

  • Crying - Crying can be a very positive emotional release and can help get rid of all of that frustration. I am a fan of this one and suggest having a nice nap after you have had a good cry.

  • Talking it through with someone - This is different than ranting, this is simply talking the conversation through with somebody and finding solutions together to the situation. Finding somebody that is good at making you feel calm is a good idea with this one. When I feel angry I often end up talking with a friend who is the only person in the world who can talk me down from anger.

  • Playing loud angry music - I love to listen to loud, angry music when I'm angry. I personally like Disturbed and Combichrist, but use whatever is best for you.

  • Playing calming music - Sometimes I prefer to listen to calming music when I am angry.

  • Spiritual release - This is something that I use a lot. When I feel angry I will often do something that makes me feel calm and is spiritual. This includes yoga, meditation, gemstones, aromatherapy, Tai Chi etc.

  • Finding a solution to the situation - Sometimes, I try to ignore my anger and fix the situation instead. I will find solutions that feel possible and safe. This distracts me from the anger and allows me to use the energy and strength from the anger to fix the situation that seemingly caused it in the first place.

All of these methods give me the freedom and the headspace to then be able to work out where my anger came from, some of them can even help me release the fears and hurt behind the anger in the process! Sometimes, if I'm lucky and able to focus, I am able to work out the root cause of the anger first and then deal with the actual emotion, but I am aware that that is not always possible.



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Pennsylvania diocese names 71 clergy accused of sexual misconduct

Victim slams Pope over sex abuse scandal

by Carma Hassan , CNN

(CNN) The leader of one of the largest Roman Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania has released a list identifying 71 priests, deacons and seminarians accused of "substantiated" sexual misconduct over the past seven decades.

The list's publication Wednesday came ahead of the expected release this month of a report by a Pennsylvania grand jury on sexual abuse by "300 priests in six Pennsylvania dioceses," a spokesman for the state's attorney general said in a statement. The grand jury's inquiry dates to 1947, the archdiocese said. Bishop Ronald Gainer of the Harrisburg Diocese on Wednesday also issued an apology on behalf of the religious community. "That conduct has left a legacy of pain and sorrow that is still being felt," he wrote. "I apologize for these actions."

In a departure from how many Catholic leaders have handled such claims, Gainer included on his diocese's list at least 42 men who have died, according to the register, saying it was important to name them. "While these men are not a risk to the public, I still felt compelled to release their names in an effort to confirm for those brave survivors who have come forward, and those who still have not, that we have heard their cries and taken them seriously," he wrote in a letter to the community.

List includes other places clerics worked

Gainer's revelation comes as American Catholics absorb the resignation of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick from the College of Cardinals, one of the church's most powerful bodies, amid allegations of molestation and sexual misconduct. McCarrick, 88, had been a popular and politically influential leader in Washington. He maintained his innocence in June against some claims and has been unavailable to comment on others. That case -- and the Harrisburg disclosure -- mark the latest in a long series of abuse allegations that have rocked the world's 1.2 billion Catholics since the scope of systemic abuse and cover-ups began emerging in 2002.

While most men on the Harrisburg list are accused of sexually abusing children, others were investigated for inappropriate behavior, such as kissing or inappropriately communicating with a minor, Gainer wrote. Others were accused of viewing or possessing child pornography. The list "does not contain those cases where the accusation was deemed not substantiated, meaning it was ... not supported by sufficient evidence" after review by "law enforcement or Diocesan reviewers," Gainer wrote. "The Diocese did not make an assessment of credibility or guilt," he added. The list omits how the diocese handled most of the accusations, as well as the men's current whereabouts, though a few cases that were forwarded to civil authorities are more detailed. The diocese did not immediately respond to CNN's request for comment.

Gainer in his statement said: "We send every and all complaints to the proper legal authorities and we remove the subject of the complaint from active ministry pending a law enforcement investigation. The safety and well-being of our children is too important not to take immediate and definitive action." The list also notes other dioceses where the clerics are known to have worked. Those include: Allentown and Erie, Pennsylvania; Dallas; Great Falls/Billings, Montana; Memphis; New York; Newark, New Jersey; Richmond, Virginia; and the Archdiocese of the Military.

Gainer also announced that anyone accused of sexual misconduct will have his name "removed from any position of honor throughout the Diocese," including "any building, facility, or room." That includes the names of Gainer's predecessors as the diocese's chief executive, a prestigious and powerful position that includes oversight of priests, the bishop said. "The decision to remove names of Bishops and clerics may prove to be controversial, but as a Bishop, I strongly believe that leaders of the Diocese must hold themselves to a higher standard, and must yield honorary symbols in the interest of healing," Gainer said in the statement.

Grand jury report expected in August

Officials involved in the state investigation described it as "long past due for the Diocese of Harrisburg to make public the names of predator priests within the Catholic Church." "Their proclamations today only come after intense public pressure and in the face of the imminent release of the Grand Jury report exposing decades of child abuse and cover up," Attorney General Josh Shapiro's spokesman, Joe Grace, said Wednesday in a statement, adding that the diocese had been uncooperative and "adverse to transparency."

Gainer said he had ordered his staff to create a list of the clerics and seminarians accused of sexual misconduct shortly after he was installed as bishop in early 2014. The names were ready for public release in September 2016, "yet the Office of Attorney General requested, in order to protect its then-ongoing investigation, that the Diocese stand down on that effort," Gainer said in his statement. The attorney general's spokesman pushed back. "A basic part of any investigation is not informing a person that they're under investigation. That can lead to the destruction of evidence," Grace told CNN on Thursday. "The Diocese of Harrisburg had decades to release the names of these abusers and then they wanted to release the names in the middle of our investigation, at a time when it could only harm our investigation." The state Supreme Court last week ordered the grand jury report to be released after the parties request redactions, due next Tuesday. Depending on the outcome, the report could be released Wednesday or August 14.



Greensburg Diocese stands ready help to abuse survivors ‘in their healing'

by Catholic News Service

GREENSBURG, Pennsylvania - The Greensburg Diocese said July 31 that in 2016 when it received an allegation of abuse against Father John T. Sweeney, a priest of the diocese, his priestly faculties were immediately revoked, and he was placed on administrative leave.

The priest, who retired Dec. 31, 2016, pleaded guilty July 31 to sexually molesting a fourth-grade boy in the 1990s. He was charged with the crime a year ago.

The diocese said in a statement it had fully cooperated with law enforcement's investigation of Sweeney. He was prohibited from presenting himself as a priest in public, and he was required to avoid any unsupervised contact with minors. “All the restrictions remain in place currently,” the diocese said.

At the time the allegation was received, the diocese said, “Father Sweeney's file contained no prior allegations of sexual misconduct of any kind.”

“The people of the Diocese of Greensburg pray for all of the survivors of child sexual abuse and want the survivors to know that we always stand ready to help them in their healing,” the diocese said. “The people of the Diocese of Greensburg also pray for the person who courageously came forward and did the right thing by reporting this abuse, and for all those who have been hurt by sexual abuse in the past.”

It said it takes the protection of all children, young people and vulnerable adults seriously. “Every report of suspected abuse of a child, young person or vulnerable adult - sexual, physical or emotional - that is made to the diocese is immediately reported to the PA ChildLine and the appropriate district attorney,” it added.

The statement emphasized that “if anyone suspects that a child, young person or vulnerable adult has been abused by any one at any time, the person should call the PA ChildLine at 1-800-932-0313, no matter when the suspected incident might have occurred.”

Diocesan efforts continue in educating “both children and adults in parishes and schools of the Diocese of Greensburg on how to spot and report suspected abuse,” it said.

The Diocese of Greensburg is one of six dioceses that have been the subject of a months-long investigation by the state's attorney general into sexual abuse claims, many of which go back decades. The other dioceses are Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Allentown, Scranton and Erie.

A redacted version of the report on that investigation is to be made available to the public as early as Aug. 8 and no later than Aug. 14.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled July 27 the redacted report should be released. In June, the court had put a hold on the full report being released because it said it needed to review challenges filed by “many individuals” named in the report.

“A number of the petitioners asserted that they were not aware of, or allowed to appear at, the proceedings before the grand jury,” the court said in its earlier opinion.

In its new ruling, the court said the report will be edited to protect the identities of those challenging its release.

In Harrisburg, Bishop Ronald W. Gainer Aug. 1 released information from the diocese's own internal investigation on child sex abuse, including a list of the names of 71 clergy, both dead and alive, accused of abuse.

He also ordered removal from buildings, halls and rooms the names of former diocesan bishops going back to 1947.

The diocese had intended on releasing its list of accused abusers nearly two years ago, but the state attorney general's office had asked the diocese not to do so to protect its own investigation.

In Pittsburgh, Bishop David A. Zubik issued a statement the same day in response to Harrisburg's release of names of accused clergy.

“We respect the rights of all those involved in the grand jury process and support the Supreme Court's decision to expediently release the report so the stories and voices of victims can be heard,” he said. “The Supreme Court's procedure is meant to ensure persons listed in the report are accorded their rights under the Pennsylvania Constitution.”

“While a seal remains in place, the forthcoming release of the grand jury's report will allow the opportunity for us to respond more fully in this matter,” Zubik added.

On Aug. 3. Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana, who was bishop of Harrisburg from 2004-2009, issued a statement to Catholic News Service in reaction to developments in his former diocese and the anticipated release of the grand jury report.

“As we wait for the public release of the grand jury report, I would like to offer my heartfelt sympathy and support to all of those victims of abusive priests,” he said. “It is a critical step in acknowledging what has occurred and beginning the process of healing for victims and so many others impacted by this tragedy.

Rhoades added, “During my time in Harrisburg and now in Fort Wayne-South Bend, I have upheld an unwavering commitment to child safety, closely following all policies and procedures put in place to punish those responsible for abuse. I followed all child protection policies and procedures, notified law enforcement and punished each individual as appropriate.”

Release of the grand jury report and his letter in response “will eliminate any speculation regarding the decisions made during my tenure as bishop of the Harrisburg Diocese,” he said.

“As leaders, we have an obligation to protect those who cannot protect themselves. My commitment to this effort remains as strong today as it was during my time in Harrisburg,” Rhoades said.



Babysitters accused of beatings, severe abuse over 6 days, police say

The Associated Press

(AP) —  A couple babysitting four children subjected at least two of them to physical and psychological terror over six days, making a girl drink dog urine, knocking out her brother and inflicting beatings that left visible injuries and required their hospitalization, police said.

Jakayo Scott Frye and Shyann Marie Hills, both 22, were charged Wednesday in Pennsylvania with dozens of crimes, including aggravated assault, false imprisonment, unlawful restraint and child endangerment.

Police said the victims' mother paid Frye and Hills $100 to watch her four children — while she vacationed in North Carolina for a week in late July — at a house trailer in the town of Rome, near the New York border.

A 9-year-old girl appeared to suffer the worst abuse, including being tied to a cabinet by the wrists until her hands turned purple and being forced to lick her own urine from a wooden floor after she was not allowed to use the bathroom for an extended period, police said.

When her mother picked her up on July 27, police said, the girl complained of an aching back, said she felt as if she was about to pass out, was heavily bruised and showed difficulty walking. An ambulance was summoned, and the hospital called police.

A nurse told investigators the girl suffered a possible ankle sprain, was dehydrated and showed severe injury or stress to her muscle tissue. A police investigator observed bruising all over both children's bodies, including the girl's "extremely swollen and red" ears.

One of her sisters said the girl was picked up repeatedly by the ears.

The mother told police Frye and Hills explained the bruises by telling her the children had been throwing themselves against a wall and that a dog crate had fallen on the 9-year-old.

Frye and Hills were both jailed. His bail was set at $750,000 and hers at $500,000. No lawyer was listed for them in court records.

Investigators learned the harrowing allegations in interviews with the two children, their two sisters and another child, a 14-year-old boy.

They recounted how the girl was forced to run in place with a 5-gallon jug tied to her body, and to hold a "plank" position while nails would puncture her feet if she moved.

The girl was also kept awake for 24 hours, on some days she wasn't fed at all, and she was tied to a dog crate by her waist and hands, police said.

Her 8-year-old sister said the girl was forced to drink dog urine through a straw, police wrote.

The 9-year-old girl told an interviewer "they treated the dogs better" than they treated her and her brother, according to the arrest affidavit. She recounted that Frye threatened her to keep quiet about his alleged attacks or "he would 'come for her,'" police said.

The child told police she was tied up because she was crying for her mother, and was being abused. She said her head was "smashed" against a bedroom door and the refrigerator "numerous times," police wrote. Frye and Hills are accused of beating children with their fists, a metal stove handle and a belt.

Frye stood on the back of the 7-year-old boy while he was in a "push up" position until he passed out, police alleged, and a 10-year-old sister told investigators "they woke him up by putting his head under water."

The couple allegedly had the 14-year-old boy beat up the 7-year-old boy, police also said.

Court records list Frye and Hills as residents of Rome and of Towanda, a neighboring town. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Aug. 14.



Train passenger helps rescue 26 girls from the ‘child traffickers'… with just one tweet

A train passenger is being hailed a hero after saving 26 girls from suspected child traffickers. Adarsh Shrivastava raised the alarm by tweeting authorities after spotting the girls on a train in the Uttar Pradesh, north India.

Shrivastava noticed the 26 girls, who he thought looked distressed, traveling in the same carriage as him on Thursday. Concerned that something untoward was underway, Shrivastava tweeted rail authorities, the minister for railways, and even the prime minister. 

"I am traveling in Avadh express(19040). in s5. in my coach their are 25 girls all are juvenile some of them are crying and all feeling unsecure."

“I am traveling in Avadh express(19040). in s5. in my coach their (sic) are 25 girls all are juvenile some of them are crying and all feeling unsecure (sic)... my current station is Hari Nagar my next station is Bagaha and then Gorakhpur. Kindly help them out. Please help,” Shrivastava posted.

In another tweet, he alleged that the youngsters could be subject to human trafficking.

The Ministry of Railways responded to Shrivastava's tweet half an hour later, and tagged railway police forces in the tweet, urging them to take action. Just a few stops later, plain-clothes officers boarded the train.

According to Scroll India, the group of girls were found with two men, aged 22 and 55, who were arrested by police. “All of them are from West Champaran in Bihar,” officials said. “The girls were being taken from Narkatikyaganj to Idgah. When questioned, the girls were unable to answer anything convincingly, so they have been handed over to the child welfare committee.”

Shrivastava is now being praised as a hero on social media. “Such response makes me proud to be an Indian,” one user posted. “Thank you action is happening. Thanks for your quick response,” said another.

The rescue comes less than a month after India's Railway Board launched an awareness campaign to highlight the risks of vulnerable young children on the railway network. The campaign encourages railway passengers and employees to remain vigilant while using India's train systems to help railway police stamp out child traffickers.

According to the Ministry of Women and Child Development, over 9,000 Indian children were victims of trafficking in 2016. Many children are sold into slavery after being lured from their homes in rural areas to the city with promises of jobs.

Children, usually from poor and rural areas, are hoodwinked into leaving their homes on the promise of getting jobs in the city. They are then trafficked for child labor, sex work, child brides, adoption, and sometimes sent overseas. Earlier this year, the Ministry announced that it was increasing its effort to tackle trafficking.



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How a disturbing Facebook video and an activist helped save a Milwaukee teen from human traffickers

by Rebecca Klopf

MILWAUKEE — A missing Milwaukee teen is back home safe after her mom and a community activist joined forces to find her.

Chicago Police are now investigating because Armoni Chambers' disappearance was likely connected to human trafficking. She would be one of 7,000 victims in just the state of Wisconsin.

Armoni went missing May 17. Her mom Bonnie Bruno said unbeknownst to her, her 16-year-old got on a Greyhound bus to meet a guy she had been talking to on social media. Bruno said the guy was not the boyfriend he claimed to be.

"She was mistreated every day. She was beaten like every day. Sometimes twice a day. She was afraid," said Bruno.

Bruno said she called Milwaukee Police to report her daughter missing, saying Armoni has a mental illness. 

"I was told and I quote, 'Well she's gone missing before, maybe she'll come back,'" said Bruno.

On June 18, a month after Armoni disappeared, Milwaukee Police classified her as critical missing. MPD said it never stopped investigating. 

"Members of the Milwaukee Police Department have worked diligently with the mother and have followed up with the information provided to the agency. Once MPD's Sensitive Crime Division received information from the mother that indicated the victim was at risk, she was then categorized as a critical missing. The Milwaukee Police Department takes missing persons reports seriously and will continue to do so," said Milwaukee Police in a statement.

Bruno said she was on her own until this week when she called community activist Tory Lowe, a stranger to her, to ask him to go with her to Chicago to follow a tip.

"My only words were let's go. We didn't what we were going to what we were going to run into. We didn't know what was going to happen," said Lowe.

A couple days later, Bruno says she received a Facebook Live video, showing her daughter on a dog leash and being held around her neck. As disturbing as it was to watch, Bruno said it helped them to zero in on a home where her daughter was being held.

A Chicago activist eventually talked a man into giving Armoni back to her mom.

"She told me, 'Mom, had you not gotten me away from those people I wouldn't be alive,'" said Bruno.

No one had been arrested for what happened to Chambers. Chicago Police said they are aware of the Facebook Live video. They have turned the case involving Chambers over to detectives and the Human Trafficking Task Force. 

Bruno said her daughter has been taken to the hospital because of her injuries. She is now at home recovering.