Tragic tot's dad calls for city reform to prevent child abuse
By: Kathianne Boniello
No other child should die because of the city's bureaucratic bungling, the dad of a Brooklyn toddler allegedly slain by his mother's boyfriend says in a lawsuit.
“The multitude of errors and failures which occurred is of such a simple and basic nature that they should never occur again,” charges Guseyn Aliyev in the Brooklyn Supreme Court filing.
Aliyev's son, Jaden Jordan, was 3 years old when a neighbor reported potential abuse in the household on Nov. 26, 2016. But Administration for Children's Services knocked on the wrong door, and didn't locate Jaden until two days later, when he was already in a coma.
The boy died days later. Salvatore Lucchesse is charged with murder and manslaughter in Jaden's death.
The killing led to a scathing 2017 report by the city's Department of Investigation, which said inadequate training for emergency ACS staffers during nights and weekends led to the error.
The dad, who did not have custody of Jaden, is seeking unspecified damages but more importantly, reform, his lawyer told The Post.
“How do we have assurances this will not happen again?” Said Aliyev's lawyer, Paul Edelstein.
Law Department spokesman Nick Paolucci called Jaden's death “tragic,” adding, “ACS has reformed and strengthened numerous practices to ensure the safety and well-being of children. We will review the legal case.”
Police launch urgent review of child cadet programmes 'being abused by officers for sexual purposes'
Fears programmes for children aged between 13 and 18 are being used by paedophiles to access children
By: Lizzie Dearder
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is investigating several police officers who worked with cadet groups – which are for young people aged between 13 and 18 – in London and Manchester, and called for safeguarding checks across England and Wales.
A constable in Greater Manchester Police is alleged to have abused his position for sexual purpose in a cadet programme.
“The officer has been arrested and released on bail and more potential victims have been identified,” a spokesperson said.
Catching online paedophiles ‘should be lower priority than violence
In the same week, the watchdog was contacted by the Metropolitan Police over “potential failures by three officers involved in the running of a cadet programme in the London region”.
A volunteer cadet leader “may have abused his position for sexual gain”, the IOPC said, and officers are accused of failing to protect children following reports.
A separate misconduct investigation is examining claims that a Metropolitan Police officer abused his position for sexual purpose at a London-based cadet training camp. He is subject to a criminal investigation.
The IOPC has written to the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) asking it to pass on advice to the heads of 43 forces in England and Wales.
Prosecutor has ‘never seen a case more shocking and disturbing' than case of police officer Ian Naude
“We are sufficiently concerned by these two referrals to ask all police forces in England and Wales to urgently review their own volunteer police cadet programmes to ensure they have robust safeguarding procedures in place,” said IOPC deputy director-general Ian Todd.
“The programmes benefit thousands of young people and it's not our intention to alarm them or their families.
“I must stress that the two investigations are unconnected and we have no information to indicate this may be a wider problem. However, some of the evidence emerging from these investigations indicates that there may have been opportunities to act sooner on the allegations that we are now investigating.”
Mr Todd said the public rightly expected the highest possible standards of child protection from police involved in programmes that engage with young and sometimes vulnerable teenagers.
“Anyone who is concerned about their own experience in the cadets, or that of someone they know, can contact us or their local police force,” he said. “All reports will be treated seriously and with discretion.”
It comes after a “committed paedophile” who joined the Cheshire Police to access children was convicted of raping a 13-year-old girl.
The NSPCC children's charity said that the cadet investigations were very concerning.
“The IOPC is right to take this seriously and to urgently review safeguarding in these programmes across England and Wales,” public affairs manager Andrew Fellowes said.
“That needs to conclude swiftly, and if other cases are identified then police authorities must set out publicly the steps being taken to ensure that it cannot happen again.”
The NSPCC is calling on the government to extend “position of trust” laws to roles such as cadet leaders and sports coaches to protect young people from being targeted for abuse.
Chief constable Shaun Sawyer, the NPCC lead for police cadets, has written to all police chiefs in England and Wales and asked them to establish whether similar cases were present in their forces and how they were being dealt with.
He said all adult volunteers were checked and vetted by local forces before participating in cadet unit activities. “A new national safeguarding framework is being developed to ensure all police forces consistently meet the highest standards of safeguarding. We will act on any learning from these investigations and are working to share the new framework in early 2019,” he said.
“No young person involved in the police cadets should be subject to abuse of any kind and I urge anyone who has been, or anyone with concerns or information, to report it.”
Anyone who has experienced inappropriate behaviour within a volunteer police cadet programme is asked to contact the IOPC on 0300 020 0096 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Child cruelty and neglect offences double over past five years in UK, police figures show
Separate data shows recorded child sexual abuse has risen by 206 per cent since 2013
By: Lizzie Dearden
Child cruelty and neglect offences in the UK have doubled over the past five years in the UK, new figures show.
Campaigners say almost 17,000 cases reported to police in the year to March represent just a “fraction” of children being abused.
There were 16,939 child cruelty and neglect offences recorded by police in 2017-18, up from 7,965 in 2012-13, the NSPCC said.
The charity's helpline also received 19,937 calls last year about children suffering neglect, with three quarters referred urgently to police or children's services.
Tracey Hamer, a helpline practitioner, described one incident where police found a mother seriously ill and unable to care for her three-year-old daughter.
“The house was in a state of disrepair and the kitchen worktops were covered in dirty crockery with mould on them,” she added. “The washing machine was broken, and mum said that water would come up through the pipes when she tried to use it so she couldn't clean any clothes.”
Recorded offences reveal only a fraction of neglect cases because social workers try to step in at an earlier stage if parents cannot meet the needs of their child, the NSPCC said.
Last year there were 27,856 children in the UK on a child protection plan or registered for concerns involving neglect.
Police define an offence of child cruelty and neglect where a parent or carer “wilfully assault, ill-treats, neglects, abandons or exposes a child under 16 in a manner likely to cause them unnecessary suffering or injury to health”.
Peter Wanless, CEO of the NSPCC, said: “It's unclear exactly why the number of child neglect and cruelty offences has risen so dramatically, but greater public awareness and improvements in how police record offences could be factors, along with deeper societal issues.
“Whatever the reasons for the increase in child neglect there is something we can all do about it now, we need to be aware of vulnerable children and be ready to report it to the NSPCC or the authorities if we are concerned for their safety or wellbeing.“
The Sydney Morning Herald
Forgotten victims of priest sexual abuse. They were not children but could they consent?
Shame, secrecy and a vast disparity of power could mean that the number of women sexually abused by clergy is four times the figure for children, with victims now telling their stories.
Christine James* was 17 when she met the man who would spend years treating her like his dirty little secret.
At first, she was flattered by the attention of a Catholic priest: confused yet elated that such a figure could be drawn to her.
Now, she realises she was his perfect prey: young and vulnerable, from a strict religious family where male authority was to be respected and feared. And in the hierarchy of her small-town church, there was no greater authority than Father Martin.*
Christine was barely an adult when the priest's attention switched from pastoral to sexual. With that, Father Martin - 11 years her senior - became far more controlling.
He'd ask her to bring him breakfast after Mass, then got her to lie down so he could rub himself against her. He got her pregnant during university, and then enlisted two fellow priests to help him convince her to have an abortion.
The Forgotten Ones
When she refused, they told her to go interstate, where he'd continue to quietly visit her while she raised the baby alone, working as a housekeeper to make ends meet.
It wasn't until almost six years later, after she finally walked out, that Christine realised her "relationship" was in fact a violation that had changed the course of her life and left her psychologically scarred.
“I ended up disconnecting from my family and friends because it was such a big secret I had to keep,” she says. “I couldn't fulfil my ambitions because he didn't want me to get a better job, and I was totally dependent on him.
"It had a devastating impact, and still does.”
While the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse shone a much-needed light on clergy assaults against children, countless adults who have also been the victims of sexual misconduct by priests say they are yet to be properly recognised.
Survivor advocates call these people the “forgotten ones”. Some are women - or men - who have been sexually assaulted by clerics from whom they've sought spiritual direction. Others spent years in apparently consensual adult relationships.
However, at the heart of this debate is whether true consent is possible when there's such a disparity in power.
“The key question you need to ask is: where did these relationships form? Did the priest have some duty of care to these people - that is, did he have a pastoral responsibility?” says Neil Ormerod, a recently retired Australian Catholic University theology professor.
“That's the same question you'd ask of a social worker or a psychiatrist, all of whom have very clear ethical guidelines.”
Inextricably tied up with this is the Church's own requirement for priests to remain celibate, and the shame and secrecy that is part of even an apparently consensual relationship.
Research presented to the Royal Commission suggests that the number of women sexually abused by clergy is four times the figure for children.
Yet The Age can reveal that in the Melbourne archdiocese, only 38 women have had their complaints against Church personnel upheld since 1996. It has paid out $1.5 million - roughly $39,400 per person.
In the Archdiocese of Brisbane, 21 allegations of sexual misconduct involving Church personnel have been received and accepted as genuine, but no figures on compensation were given. The other metropolitan archdioceses - Sydney, Adelaide and Perth - refused to provide any information at all.
But with the Church now claiming it wants to right the wrongs of the past, how must it respond to this particular group, who fall outside the Royal Commission child abuse redress scheme?
And what does it mean for the vow of celibacy? One year after the Royal Commission handed down its final report - which called for celibacy to be optional after finding it was a contributing factor to abuse - should the Church finally take heed?
A fateful choice
Celibacy was a voluntary practice of early Christian monks and some clerics, but not universally required of Roman Catholic priests until 1139.
However, as the Royal Commission notes, mandatory celibacy (including vowed abstinence) is an “unattainable ideal” for many priests that leads to “living double lives, and contributes to a culture of secrecy and hypocrisy”. One priest privately told The Age that while he accepted it as part of his “calling” when he was ordained, as time went by “it becomes quite a lonely existence”.
The issue of consent between adults muddies the waters even more. Take the case of Sacred Heart Mission founder Father Ernie Smith, who was stood down in February after the Melbourne archdiocese found he'd broken his vows and had “inappropropriate sexual relationships” with various adult women. Months later, as The Age reports today, his family is fighting to clear his name and restore his legacy at the mission he helped create.
“Yes, he was a priest, and he breached his vow of celibacy, and he admitted that,” his niece Suzanne Pettersen says. “But the Archdiocese made out like he was some kind of pedophile when he was in consensual relationships.”
On the other side of this complex debate are those who say that a minister of religion who engages in a sexual interaction with an adult is not only committing a breach of his vows, but an abuse of power.
According to Ormerod, author of the 1996 book When Ministers Sin, women who became involved with a priest were usually vulnerable, seeking spiritual guidance for problems in their life. Some felt flattered at first. But soon enough they were emotionally tied, often to the point of feeling trapped. Often they weren't the only one the priest had “chosen”.
One former nun was exploited by Melbourne priest Barry Whelan in the 1970s, a man she had met when she was a patient at St Vincent's Hospital. Whelan retired in 2002 while facing a separate abuse claim that was later upheld.
Another victim, Jennifer Herrick, was offered a confidential payout to settle a court action she launched against Father Tom Knowles and three senior members of his Catholic order, the Blessed Sacrament Fathers.
Herrick was a shy 22-year-old with hip dysplasia when Knowles, then her family's priest, cultivated a relationship with her that went on for 14 years. But as she told The Age recently: “It's not a relationship because consent is invalid.”
“The responses of the churches needs to be more akin to responding to child abuse survivors,” says NSW lawyer Peter Karp, who has represented Herrick and other victims. “It is not just an adult with an adult. It is a priest in an elevated position with a parishioner who is vulnerable. And the church should be accountable for it."
Sue Tran* will never forget the day she first met Father Dominic Nguyen. It was the late 1980s, and Sue was 25, living in a Vietnamese refugee house in Hawthorn run by the Faithful Companions of Jesus.
The priest, then 35, was friendly and gregarious. He often dressed in faded jeans and a well-worn pair of Oxford Brogue shoes, and would insist on being called Brother Third - a family way of addressing the second-born male member of the household - instead of his religious title.
It wasn't long before Father Dominic became someone in whom Sue could confide, seeking solace from what she describes as the “psychological ruthlessness” of the sisters who ran the refugee home.
But then he began combining his “counselling” with one-on-one outings: Pizza Hut every Friday afternoon; a road trip to Ballarat; a swim at Frankston beach. One night at a party, he shocked her by kissing her on the cheek. He became even more brazen: at a suburban park in broad daylight, metres from a couple sitting nearby, he lifted up her skirt, pulled down her underwear and tried to initiate oral sex.
She managed to stop him that day, but when he was transferred to Canberra she followed him, thinking he would find her a home. Instead, he told her to live in a hostel and “lay low” so he could visit her. After getting her drunk, their relationship became sexual.
“I was afraid of rejecting him for fear he wouldn't help me ... In this strange country, he was my only anchor. I felt I had to repay him for his help and it was a small price to pay to let him kiss and touch me,” she says.
It wasn't until Sue asked Father Dominic to marry her that the penny dropped. The priest - who The Age sought to contact through his brother and former religious order, to no avail - declined her proposal and returned to Melbourne.
Sue filed a complaint through the Church's Towards Healing process in 2008, and received $40,000 in compensation from the Trustees of the Dominican Fathers. But she felt blamed and shamed by the Church, she said, and in the conservative Vietnamese community rumours spread and she became known as the “priest's seductress”. She remains in counselling to this day.
How does the Church respond?
It's hard to quantify what proportion of priests have been in relationships with adult women or men, let alone what proportion of those relationships ought to be classified as a violation of their pastoral duty.
Some relationships are no doubt truly consensual and healthy, despite the breaking of priestly vows.
However clinical psychologist Dr Gerardine Robinson, who has spent years treating clergy through the Catholic Church's Encompass program, says research suggests that for every child sexually abused by clergy, four women and two men have been victims. Based on the 2790 child abuse survivors who presented evidence at the Royal Commission, this could equate to 5580 men and 11,160 women in Australia over the decades.
The big question is how the Church responds. Bishops have so far resisted the push to make celibacy voluntary, defending it as a long-established and positive practice of the Church.
But Australian Catholic Bishops Conference president Mark Coleridge, who oversees the Brisbane archdiocese, says “significant energy” is expended during seminary training and as part of a priest's ongoing education once they are ordained “to help priests understand how they behave”. Code of conduct documents, like the church's Integrity in Ministry, outline expectations of appropriate behaviour.
“Any failure to live up to the high standards of behaviour expected of priests is taken seriously and investigated,” Coleridge says. “As with other forms of abuse, one offence is one too many and we remain vigilant and encourage reporting of concerns so that the Church keeps people safe.”
Nonetheless, concerns remain. In her evidence to the Royal Commission, Dr Robinson spoke of a very recent case in which “a young priest ... abused vulnerable women all through seminary and in every parish he had been in”.
“That says something about selection, screening and formation in seminaries. Why wasn't it picked up?”
The Royal Commission has since called on the Bishops Conference to establish a national protocol for screening candidates before and during seminary or religious formation, as well as before ordination or the profession of religious vows. This could help detect red flags - such as narcissistic, compulsive and dependent tendencies - which tend to be common among abusive priests.
But experts say that “institutional tolerance” for boundary violations involving adults also remains a key problem.
Researcher Stephen de Weger - who recently conducted a Queensland University of Technology study involving 23 women and six men who had been the victim of sexual misconduct by clerics - found that the Catholic Church had not yet accepted that the problem begins with the behaviour of the abuser, rather than the status or behaviour of the vulnerable adult.
To that end, de Weger says, the “attitude of victim-blaming” must change.
Judy Courtin couldn't agree more. The Melbourne lawyer has supported numerous victims through the Royal Commission, many of whom have struggled against a justice system underpinned by low conviction rates, high numbers of appeals, and the fact that the perpetrators often die before cases can be resolved.
She concedes there have been worthwhile reforms: Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, NSW and Queensland have all removed the statute of limitations to make a claim, allowing more people to come forward.
However Courtin believes the law must go further by setting aside the Deed of Release that victims are forced to sign when their complaint is upheld, which prevents them from making further compensation claims in the future.
'Faith in God is completely gone'
Cairns mother Lilla Benigno agrees reforms are needed. The once-devout Catholic will never forget the day she was assaulted by a priest she had trusted.
Not long before the incident, she sat in the confessional at his church for hours, sharing the tragic story of her life: of contracting polio and being neglected as a child; of 10 years on the streets of Melbourne; of nights fuelled by drugs and prostitution; of rapes and abortions.
“I told him everything, and he told me to pray as penance ‘and God will forgive you'. Then two days later he came to my house and was sitting beside my bed,” she says.
When Lilla woke up and asked Father John what he was doing in her home, he told her he simply wanted to see if she needed a lift to Alcoholics Anonymous, where the pair had met some months earlier. Then he told her she was beautiful and touched her breast. He pushed her down as she tried to get out of the bed, rubbing himself up and down her body.
Lilla received some compensation from the Church in 2017, nine years after the priest had died, but the payout was not what she wanted most.
“I wanted an apology,” she says, in a sentiment expressed by so many other clergy victims. “I trusted him. I thought he was my saviour and I put him on a pedestal. I really believed that he was a really good man, and I was going to be healed from all those things I did in the past. And he just took advantage of it.
“That's what makes me really sick. Now my faith in God is completely gone. What good is money if your faith is gone?”
How Public Events Aid or Abet Healing Wounds of Sexual Abuse
What three powerful examples can teach us, if we let them.
Three large public events held this year are worthy of our attention because they affect our collective experiences of acknowledging, understanding, and repairing the damage caused by sexual violation. One occurred during the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, another during the 2018 ESPY Awards for athletes, and the third during the testimonies of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh before the Senate Judiciary Committee. As stated by Mary Gail Frawley O'Dea in her book Perversion of Power: "Throughout history, the most common response to the suspicion or even the disclosure of sexual abuse has been denial and dissociation. Elective blindness, deafness, and muteness are reactions endemic to many people confronted by a victimized child, an adult survivor, or a perpetrating adult. To the extent that sexual victimization of a minor depends upon the silence of adults who knew, suspected, or should have known about the abuse, then, the burdens of shame and guilt reach beyond the individual abuser."
Every three years the Episcopal Church in the United States holds a meeting known as the General Convention, which is the bicameral governing body of the Church. It's comprised of the House of Bishops, with upward of 200 active and retired bishops, and the House of Deputies, with clergy and lay deputies elected from each diocese of the three regional areas of the Church. This year's General Convention was held in July, and beforehand, in response to the #MeToo movement, the House of Bishops, in an open letter to the Episcopal Church, extended an invitation to share reflections on sexual harassment, abuse, and exploitation. Their intent was to create a special listening session during the Convention, a sacred space for listening to the sharings, for reflection, and for examining the Church's handling or mishandling of cases of sexual harassment, exploitation, and trust.
This solemn process was live streamed on the internet at the beginning of the Convention. My husband and I watched, as Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves, Vice-President of the House of Bishops, lead the process. It was deeply moving. Having been a therapist for over three decades, a member of various Catholic and Episcopal churches from time to time, having worked in a pastoral counseling agency, and being a sexual abuse survivor myself, I understand the healing value of giving voice to the experience of sexual violation and trauma, and of having the supportive response of a caring community. The caring essence of the community at the Convention was palpable, and I hope that the clergy and staff of every church has continued to care enough to act on these matters without delay. Heretofore so many in church settings have abdicated their pastoral responsibilities. It's time for that to change. It's time to learn and understand the dynamics of sexual harassment and abuse and to develop a culture of healing past wounds and preventing future sexual violations. The Convention's listening space made that perfectly clear.
ABC's broadcast of the 26th Annual ESPY Sports Awards last summer is a stellar example of the power of a large public event to promote the healing of survivors. Jennifer Garner gave a moving introduction about the USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University athletes who claimed they were sexually abused. Aly Raisman, Jordyn Wieber, Sarah Klein, and Jamie Dantzcher spoke on behalf of the 141 young women, about the abuse the USA Gymnastics team endured at the hands of their team doctor Larry Nassar. As quoted in Julie Miller's July 18 Vanity Fair article Sarah Klein, the first known gymnast to be abused by Nassar, said this to the audience: "Make no mistake, we are here on this stage to present an image for the world to see, a portrait of survival, a new vision of courage...telling our stories of abuse over and over in graphic detail is not easy. We're sacrificing privacy, we're being judged and scrutinized, and it's grueling and it's painful but it is time. We must start caring about children's safety more than we care about adults' reputations." And then millions watched on TV as they received the much-deserved Arthur Ashe Courage Award. Described in the Representation Project's July 20 blog, the audience rose to their feet in a collective acknowledgment that never again could the sports world prioritize the reputation of a powerful man over the safety of another human being. "It spoke to what is possible when we as a collective society say 'no more' to those who exploit and take advantage of our nation's most vulnerable," and it thus provided the beginning of a collective healing.
The ESPY production staff, who were obviously and commendably dedicated to the well-being of these athletes, reached out early to Pathways to Safety International www.pathwaystosafety.org, asking them for guidance on language for the press release, script, and overall approach in how best to serve the survivors receiving the award. They then secured Peace Over Violence www.peaceoverviolence.org to provide crisis counselors on site for the rehearsal. These counselors were also available both overnight, and for the day of the show. They even secured therapy dogs for the group for both days.
In contrast, I often think of what a missed opportunity the Judiciary Committee hearings regarding Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's allegations of attempted rape by Judge Brett Kavanaugh when they were teenagers were. Except for the manipulations of politics, this event could have been planned in concert with the wisdom garnered by Professor Anita Hill as a result of her experiences in 1991 when she testified that Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas had sexually harassed her. Professor Hill's recommendations made sense to me. As reported in a September 27 article at cbsnews.com, she advised that enough time be taken for a thorough investigation by a neutral party and that experts on sexual assault be brought in, to give input to the Senate as the investigation proceeded. I would have added to that recommendation that specialists in the effects of alcohol on mind, mood and behavior be brought in as well, in order to educate the Senate and the general public. But as it turned out Ford and Kavanaugh were instructed instead to proceed with their independent testimonies within a short period of time - much too short for comprehensive investigations to be carried out. Dr. Hill felt, and I agree with her, that the way it was handled was a disservice to both Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh and to everyone else concerned, including the courts and the many American people who wanted to understand the dynamics.
In Dr. Hill's view, the #MeToo movement has the potential to change the way Americans deal with sexual misconduct in the future but it would mean that they would have to cast away their stereotypical view of abusers and their attachment to simple solutions. Instead, they'd have to deal with the hard questions. What questions? Roberta Dolan, author of Say it Out Loud: Revealing and Healing the Scars of Sexual Abuse, listed quite a few in her recent blog entitled What the #MeToo Movement is Missing, posted at www.elephantjournal.com. "Who is explaining to the general public the horrible consequences of sexual abuse?" she asks, for example. "Where are the experts explaining the difficult concept of repressed memories or the debilitating pressure to keep the abuse a secret?" She goes on to express disappointment in the media because of their lack of initiative in answering these questions and more, like where can survivors who get triggered by related news items get help? I think she has a very good point; there's a crying need for televised answers to these questions.
Each of these three events I've described for you were developed as an outgrowth of the #MeToo movement, and each has presented us with lessons to learn. Let's take them to heart and let them inform our present and future work.
After Ohio State sex abuse scandal, a push to change statute of limitations for victims
Currently, under Ohio law, an adult victim has two years from the date of the alleged abuse to file a civil suit
The whistleblowing former Ohio State wrestler who accused his coaches of failing to protect him and other athletes from a sexually abusive team doctor went to bat Wednesday for proposed legislation that would eliminate the statute of limitations for rape cases in Ohio.
Joining ex-wrestler Mike DiSabato was rape victim advocate and lawyer Gloria Allred, who is representing several of the former athletes who claim they were molested by Dr. Richard Strauss when he worked at Ohio State from the mid-1970s to the late 1990s.
“Clearly there needs to be a change in state law,” Allred said. “Often we think of victims of sexual abuse as women. We should not ignore men who were sexually abused.”
State Sen. Joe Schiavone, a Democrat who is leading the push to change Ohio's law, said it is long overdue. His proposed bill, which currently only has Democratic sponsors, would eliminate statute of limitations on criminal prosecutions of rape and attempted rape and "provide that there is no period of limitations for a civil action brought by a victim."
“There is no statute of limitation on murder and there should not be a statute of limitations on rape,” he said.
But Schiavone said the bill he is championing would not cover the alleged Strauss victims since it only applies to new cases. He said, however, there have been discussions about possibly opening a one-year window that would allow the former Ohio State athletes, and only them, to file civil lawsuits for damages.
Currently, under Ohio law, an adult victim has two years from the date of the alleged abuse to file a civil suit. Meanwhile, a child victim has 12 years from his or her 18th birthday to file a civil suit for damages. For criminal charges, the statute of limitations is capped at 20 years.
The 1978 employment application information for Dr. Richard Strauss, from Ohio State University's personnel files.Ohio State University via AP
Statute of limitations on rape and sexual abuse cases vary from state to state.
DiSabato, whose allegations prompted the university to open an investigation into Strauss in April, said his alma mater needs to be “held accountable.”
DiSabato recounted to journalists Wednesday how he was allegedly molested the first time by Strauss, when he was a 14-year-old athlete at a Catholic high school in Columbus and the doctor was doing a body fat study that was authorized by the university.
"This was not a study, this was a premeditated plot to assault children," DiSabato said of the doctor, choking up.
It was a "running joke" among the students that Strauss was molesting athletes and Ohio State did nothing to stop him, DiSabato said. 'There was systematic abuse within the athletic department," he said.
OSU has said that they will "be focused on uncovering what may have happened during this era."
DiSabato, 50, made headlines in July when he and several other ex-Ohio State wrestlers publicly accused one of their former coaches, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, of turning a blind eye to Strauss' alleged abuse.
Their broadside came after Jordan, who was an assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State from 1986 to 1994, insisted in no uncertain terms that he had no idea what Strauss was doing — and had not even heard locker room talk about the doctor.
But six former Ohio State wrestlers interviewed by NBC News said they believed Jordan had to have known about Strauss. One said he told Jordan about it directly and his account was corroborated by another wrestler.
Jordan did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether he would support a change in Ohio's statute of limitations law for sex abuse victims. Jordan has previously insisted that he had no knowledge of any sexual misconduct by Strauss.
A spokesman for Ohio State said, "We do not have a position on the bill."
Since April, male athletes from 17 different sports at Ohio State have reported sexual misconduct by Strauss, who died by suicide in 2005.
Ohio State hired the Perkins Coie law firm to conduct an independent investigation into the allegations against Strauss. Jordan and some 150 former students have been interviewed, Perkins Coie attorneys Markus Funk and Caryn Trombino told the Ohio State trustees earlier this month.
In August, the U.S. Department of Education announced it too had opened an investigation into whether Ohio State officials responded “promptly and equitably” to the complaints from athletes about Strauss.
Young survivors of sexual abuse advise Emmerdale on the Jacob and Maya storyline
By: David Brown
Emmerdale has been seeking advice from young survivors of sexual abuse for its current storyline featuring Maya Stepney and Jacob Gallagher. In recent weeks, viewers have seen 15-year-old Jacob get closer to teacher Maya, who is involved in a relationship with his adoptive father David. And in Monday 3 December's episode, Maya was seen kissing Jacob, a move that will inevitably fuel speculation that the teen boy is being groomed.
Now, the makers of Emmerdale have praised Barnardo's after cast and crew met with experts and young people supported by the children's charity. Said Emmerdale producer Laura Shaw: “It was important for us to tell this storyline authentically, so we approached Barnardo's for advice on scripts and character behaviour. Our researchers, story team - along with actors Louisa [Clein], Matthew [Wolfenden] and Joe-Warren [Plant] - met with Barnardo's experts and young men who have been supported by the charity.
"We met some incredible individuals and were moved by their courage and willingness to help us tell this story sensitively. Hopefully, it will make young people and their parents more aware of these issues and their impact.”
Barnardo's chief executive Javed Khan added: “We were really pleased to be approached by Emmerdale to advise on the serious subject of adult women grooming and abusing boys. Too often this is seen as ‘taboo' and not talked about.
“Our specialist UK-wide services support thousands of children who have been sexually exploited by both men and women, to rebuild their lives; and we work with children at risk to help them stay safe. We know from research that outdated views still exist about boys who are groomed by adult women, but in reality it causes lasting harm, and problems with trust, affection, love and sex.”
In order to help tell the story, Barnardo's arranged for the Emmerdale team to meet young men who have been supported by a project called Better Futures Cymru, which provides therapeutic services for children and young people across Wales with sexualised histories, including young people who have been the victims of sexual abuse or child sexual exploitation.
Viewers will now have to keep watching Emmerdale to see what the already inappropriate relationship between Jacob and Maya becomes, but producers have said it's "a storyline that needs to be told".
Sexual subcultures are collateral damage in Tumblr's ban on adult content
Would you like to receive trending story notifications on your smartphone? The social networking and microblogging site Tumblr announced on Monday that from December 17 it will no longer host adult content on its platform. The Washington Post reported that the policy "removes one of the last major refuges for pornography on social media."
But the move will affect more than just porn
Over time, Tumblr has become a haven for fanfiction writers, artists, sex workers, kinksters and independent porn producers who have built subcultural community networks by sharing and discussing their user-generated content.
Tumblr's definition of what constitutes permissible adult content fails to recognise the value of this kind of work. It separates sex from politics, preserves a class-based distinction between art and pornography, and limits representations of female nudity to reproduction and health.
The result is the loss of a dynamic cultural archive and the unnecessary sanitisation of public space.
Policing women's bodies
In updates to Tumblr's Community Guidelines: "Adult content primarily includes photos, videos, or GIFs that show real-life human genitals or female-presenting nipples, and any content—including photos, videos, GIFs and illustrations—that depicts sex acts."
Aside from the obvious regulatory dilemma of ascertaining which nipples appear to be "female-presenting," this kind of targeting of women's bodies has met with public criticism. For example, the Free the Nipple campaign has protested the criminalisation, censorship and fetishisation of women's breasts.
Tumblr's new policy still permits: "… exposed female-presenting nipples in connection with breastfeeding, birth or after-birth moments."
These policies are presumably a response to campaigns to normalise breastfeeding. Nipples are also permitted in: "… health-related situations, such as post-mastectomy or gender confirmation surgery."
These policies restrict representations of women's bodies to their reproductive functions and repeat the tired framing of women's bodies through medical lenses, at the expense of pleasure.
Distinguishing art and pornography
Tumblr will continue to allow written erotica and artistic nudity, which is defined as "nudity found in art, such as sculptures and illustrations." But this policy reinforces a tenuous conceptual distinction between art and pornography.
The demarcation of art as something distinct from pornography was influenced by the increasing availability of photography in the 19th century, which threatened the very existence of art. While traditional paintings sought to imitate the real, photography was considered "too real" and "too close". It prompted fears about proximity (its corporeal effect on the viewer), danger (its seductive power) and contagion (its potential to harm or infect).
Pornographic photography became a scapegoat. It was used to distinguish lowbrow forms of cultural consumption for the masses from highbrow forms of art for the elite. Pornography became a pejorative term that served to preserve and maintain the status of art.
Purging sex workers
Although Tumblr maintains its policy change was unrelated to its failure to effectively filter child pornography, the decision comes against the backdrop of the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA), which was passed in the United States in April.
FOSTA prompted platforms such as Google, Microsoft and Facebook to amend their terms of service to preclude nudity, sexual content and sexual services in order to avoid charges of promoting or facilitating sex work.
Unfortunately this legislation has not improved grievance avenues for those experiencing exploitation. Instead, this blunt law has shut down sites that law enforcement could use to trace criminal activity, platforms where survivors could seek assistance, and forums where sex workers could screen safety information.
Sex workers were pioneers of the web. They designed, coded, built and used websites and cryptocurrencies to advertise and transact in the context of criminalisation.
They helped sites like Tumbr to flourish by populating the platforms with content, increasing their size and commercial viability. Indeed, adult content was reportedly responsible for 20% of traffic to Tumblr.
Now sex workers are now being effectively erased from social media.
There is evidence about the human rights impact of anti-trafficking campaigns, which can victimise those they are intended to protect.
But the pressure to be seen as proactive partners in response to trafficking and child abuse is so significant that tech companies are willing to erase sex completely from their platforms and accept sex as a necessary casualty.
Containing the democratisation of culture
The sequestering of sex is not an inevitable response. It has not always been the case that adult content has been treated as something external to art, culture or society.
Depictions of sexual practices can be traced back to ancient civilisations. The sexually explicit frescoes of ancient Greece and Rome were displayed publicly and integrated into daily life rather than being, as Walter Kendrick describes, "locked away in secret chambers safe from virginal minds."
It was the process of archaeological extraction in the 18th century that commenced a process of identifying and labelling ancient artefacts as "pornographic," and removing them from public view.
Historians have found that the modern regulatory category of "pornography" was invented at the same time, alongside the emergence of technologies (such as the printing press) that allowed for mass-distribution. As Lynn Hunt argues, it was created: "in response to the perceived menace of the democratization of culture."
As the evolution of the internet promises increased access to technologies and rapid circulation of cultural materials, regulatory attempts to restrict them are being met with contest, protest and resistance.
Sanitising public space
Private corporations have now become the arbiters of community standards, making decisions about what content is permissible to circulate. Corporate monopolies now have a greater impact than national classifiers on what material the public can access.
Apple, which dropped Tumblr from its App Store on 20 November, has had a "homogenizing and sanitizing effect on the internet". It refuses any apps that contain "pornographic" or "offensive" content, including hook up apps with "overtly sexual content".
Steve Jobs himself has stated: "We do believe we have a moral responsibility to keep porn off the iPhone."
Designating representations of sex to the private, personal realm, outside of the public or political sphere, obscures the fact that heterosexual intimacies saturate public culture. Tumblr has been a site for LGBTQ, kinky and geeky individuals to build spaces, networks and cultures, and for sex workers to share skills and referrals for safety.
From December 17 (coincidentally, International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers), Tumblr will only permit nudity "related to political or newsworthy speech." This positioning reflects the historical development of obscenity law that has viewed representations of sex as devoid of merit unless they are redeemed by "serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value."
In removing sex and nudity entirely from the platform, Tumblr's new policy misses the fact that sexual subcultures are a crucial part of public life and contribute to critical social conversations and meaningful political alliances.
How Tumblr's adult content crackdown could alienate users
(CNN Business) --
Tumblr says it is banning images and videos that feature "adult content," including pornography, from its platform. The change, which will start December 17, threatens to alienate some of the blogging website's most active communities.
The company said Monday that it will no longer allow any images or videos of sex acts, nor will it allow "real-life human genitals or female-presenting nipples." It will make exceptions for non-sexual content, including breastfeeding photos and "health-related situations," such as sex-reassignment surgeries and mastectomies.
The decision comes weeks after Tumblr's mobile app was removed by Apple from the App Store. Soon after the app was removed, Tumblr acknowledged that it had found and removed material related to child sexual abuse on its website.
At the time, Tumblr said the material appeared on the website because it had slipped past a filter. The company scans images uploaded to the website against an industry database. The content in question had not yet been included in the database, according to Tumblr.
By expanding its list of banned material, Tumblr said it wants to make more people "feel comfortable expressing themselves" on the platform.
Tumblr will still allow written adult content, including erotica, fan fiction and other creative writing.
The company will enforce the new rules through a combination of automated detection, human moderation and assistance from community members who flag objectionable posts they find. Accounts found in violation of the rules will be made private, though the owners will be given a chance to appeal.
Tumblr, which was founded in 2007, quickly drew young users and became a haven for creative fan communities. It was sold in 2013 to Yahoo for $1.1 billion, a company that itself was acquired by Verizon last year. A year before the Verizon sale, Yahoo wrote down the value of its Tumblr purchase by $482 million, citing low projections for its performance.
An estimated 21.3 million people in the United States use the website at least once per month, according to eMarketer. A 2016 study by researchers in Italy found only 0.1% of users uploaded pornographic content to the website. But the same study found that 22% of Tumblr users liked or reblogged such material, while another 28% were unintentionally exposed to it.
The decision to ban adult images could have a major effect on some of the website's most active posters, including its fan communities. These groups often write stories and create graphic art based on TV shows, movies or books they love. Some of the work is sexual in nature.
"There's a lot of danger of false positives," said Casey Fiesler, an assistant professor at the University of Colorado Boulder who researches social media, regulation and fandoms. "I think that the fandom community in part has been really burned by this in the past, and they are rightfully freaking out right now."
It wouldn't be the first time strict content standards caused people to leave a service. Fiesler said that's what happened to LiveJournal 10 years ago. The popular blogging site started prohibiting what it considered objectionable content, and a large number of accounts were deleted. Users moved on to other platforms, including Tumblr.
Fiesler said fan communities could move elsewhere, including to new platforms such as Pillowfort. She has also researched the migration of many groups to more isolated but private communities, such as the chat app Discord.
Other groups could be hit by the change, too, including LGBTQ users, sexual assault survivors and sex workers who use the service to connect with each other and talk about safety issues, Fiesler added.
"I worry about this kind of thing having a disproportionate impact on people who use social media to connect with others who are struggling with issues of their own sexuality or gender identity," Fiesler. "This is a place they can also go to find support."
Even if the new rules drive away users, the issue might not matter much for Verizon, Tumblr's parent company. Tumblr is now bundled in a collection of media properties that was until recently called Oath. The division has since been rebranded as Verizon Media Group.
"It's safe to say that Tumblr is pretty immaterial to Oath these days -- there is relatively little ad revenue there," said Brian Wieser, an analyst at Pivotal Research who covered Yahoo before it was acquired by Verizon. "Changes probably wouldn't be noticeable to Oath, let alone to Verizon.
School curriculum should include chapter on child abuse prevention
KARACHI: Sharing concerns over increasing incidents of child abuse, mental health professionals from across the country passed a resolution calling upon the government to introduce a life skills curriculum in schools, focusing on health, hygiene and emotional education to equip children better to resist and report abuse.
At a recent meeting held in Karachi, they also urged the government to effectively enforce the clauses on child pornography, child abuse and child seduction of Child Protection and Welfare Act.
Tackling child sexual abuse: awareness, identification and prevention
The resolution was endorsed by Prof Emeritus S. Haroon Ahmed, head of the Pakistan Association of Mental Health (PAMH); Dr Asma Humayun, a consultant psychiatrist in Lahore; Dr Ambreen Ahmad of Rozan, an NGO working for child protection; Prof M. Iqbal Afridi, head of the psychiatry department of Jinnah Postgraduate and Medical Centre; Dr Uzma Ambareen, vice president of PAMH-Karachi; Dr Naim Siddiqui; Muniza Yaseen of Aahang, a Karachi-based NGO working on sexual and reproductive health and rights; Dr Ayesha Minhas; Dr Rubina Kidwai (member of SMHA); Prof Raza ur Rehman, former head of Civil Hospital Karachi's psychiatry department and Dr Khalid Mufti of Horizon Welfare.
“Since 50 per cent of such acts (physical and sexual abuse, kidnapping, rape, murder etc.) are committed by trusted relatives, family friends and domestic staff, it becomes difficult to propose protective mechanisms. Having said that, it is extremely important that children are helped to become more aware and be actively educated about ways to protect themselves,” a statement released by the PAMH says.
It also calls for legislative and societal reforms along with sensitizing parents and teachers so they could effectively communicate with children in ways that encourage trust and openness and respond appropriately, if a child were to share an experience of being abused.
Referring to the Supreme Court's suo motu notice of Zainab, a seven-year-old girl who was kidnapped, raped and murdered early this year in Kasur, it also says that the tragedy still haunted health professionals.
The association highlights some stats on childhood abuse in Pakistan which is ranked 149th out of 174 countries by “End of Childhood Index”, it says.
“It is estimated that 12 children are abused every day and this is a fraction of unreported cases. Sahil, an NGO, reports 2, 332 child abuse cases in the first six months of this year in the country,” the statement says.
Life skills curriculum
The experts believed that children should be provided information about abuse, including sexual abuse, from an early age, keeping in view cultural and social sensitivities and religious values.
“Before making any change, the relevant syllabus must be widely circulated for consultation and consensus with different sections of society that must include current educational establishments in Pakistan, both private and public schools,” it says.
Suggesting how to create awareness on the subject, experts suggest that parents, teachers and young people should be educated about the early warning signs and symptoms of mental illness and its efficient and appropriate management.
“Parents and teachers should be assisted to help children and adolescents for building life skills so that they can cope with everyday challenges of life in a constructive manner.
“Psychosocial support should also be provided in schools and community settings through training of mental health workers to enable them to detect and manage mental health disorders. Health activities should be promoted in schools,” they say.
Experts also suggested conducting awareness campaigns about healthy lifestyle in the media which, they said, should cover vulnerabilities, risk factors and identification of physical, emotional and sexual abuse and neglect.
“The process to register such complaints at police stations should be simplified, ensuring confidentiality of the victim and his or her family members. The police should be trained on how to conduct interviews with victims and their families, in a sensitive way. The service for counseling, legal aid and children protection should be provided by the government.
“All provinces should have fully functional forensic laboratories with unified and standard protocols for different tests, including the DNA test. The culture of blaming the victim must be discouraged at all levels, including those of family, media and legal community,” they say.
They also underline media's role and say that they should develop their own code of conduct for responsible and ethical reporting while commenting on those sensitive issues.
All TV channels should allocate time for public service messages on health promotion.
“It should be noted that the Australian prime minister offered national apology to child sexual abuse victims and their parents on the front lawn of the parliament last week. We in Pakistan, however, have failed our children.
“We expect our prime minister to feel and take notice of barbarous acts so prevalent in our midst and fulfill his promise to the children of Pakistan,” the statement concluded.
SWEETWATER, Texas (KRBC)
Bikers Against Child Abuse bringing a joyous Christmas to abused children
By: Pheben Kassahun
The holidays are a joyous time for children, but not every child gets to experience the magic of Christmas morning.
However, there is a group in Sweetwater hoping to change that in your community.
The Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA) non-profit organization works through out the year to help children who have survived child abuse.
"We go with them to court. Whenever they have the court, a lot of times the parents are subpoenaed. That's where we come in. We'll be there. We'll sit with them through court," Armando Moncibais said.
He is one of the heroes in the world, working to end child abuse through BACA.
"When you first meet them in an initial interview, they shut down. They are pretty much clinging on their mom or their dad, then after a while, they open up. It's just a wonderful feeling knowing we did something for that child," Moncibais said.
The 501(c) non-profit works hand in hand with law enforcement, district attorney's offices and agencies, like the West Texas Children's Advocacy Center (CAC).
"All of the victims that we serve throughout the whole year and their non-offending siblings, we help those families out with Christmas," Kelsey Zimmerman, executive director of CAC said.
With one of the agency's biggest time of the year, the two groups are teaming up to ensure each child gets the Christmas they deserve.
"We have a big tree at WalMart in Sweetwater and in Snyder," Zimmerman said.
Covering three counties, Nolan, Mitchel and Fisher, the agency and BACA hopes to alleviate families who are struggling.
"That kind of helps them get through a little bit of their struggles, because when you're dealing with an investigation, a lot of that can take time and money and time away from work," Zimmerman said.
Hoping to end the abusive trend in the process.
"It has really humbled me to know that my kids are safe. There is bad in the world. I don't want to scare people when they hear about child abuse but it's there, it's around the corner, it's underneath our noses, it's at the schools," Zimmerman said.
BACA is also in need of kids vests and teddy bears.
The kids vests are given to the kids who are adopting BACA into their family, and the teddy bears are for hugs when their BACA member is not there to give them one.
If you would like to donate to BACA, you can contact:
Chapter President: Kris "Mijo" Warner, email@example.com, (325) 829-2078
Chapter Vice President: Luis "T-Bone" Torres, firstname.lastname@example.org (325) 242-6689
Chapter Child Liaison: Norma "Mouse" Torres, email@example.com (325) 242-5410
To the folks who say sending my kids to CPS is child abuse ... I have thoughts
By: Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune
A Chicago Tribune series uncovered widespread sexual violence in Chicago Public Schools. But CPS also has, year-after-year, many of the top-performing schools in the state and, on occasion, the country.
Every time I write about Chicago Public Schools, I spend the next few days fielding emails telling me I should move.
On Thursday, I wrote a column asking CPS for more transparency about the sexual violence uncovered in a series of stories by my Tribune colleagues.
In the wake of the series, which revealed a decade of sexual abuse in the city's public schools, the district promised to implement a public awareness campaign, according to the plan of action page on the CPS website. The campaign would encourage students, employees, families and the public to report suspected abuse, and it would educate us about appropriate relationships and interactions between students and adults.
As a CPS parent, I'm still waiting. I'm waiting for the robocalls and emails and tweets and letters home and invitations to town halls.
I'm waiting for CPS to start focusing less on damage control and more on damage. I'm tired of waiting.
I said as much in the column.
“If your worried about your children's safety common sense should tell you to move,” a reader named Bill emailed. “Enrolling your children in a Chicago public school is a form of child abuse. You can do better.”
Several others echoed his sentiments.
I want to spend a few minutes talking about why I disagree.
Not because CPS has, year-after-year, many of the top-performing schools in the state and, on occasion, the country. Although that's true.
Not because I've come to know and respect and adore so many of the CPS students and parents and teachers and social workers and art therapists and coaches and volunteers, and the idea that they're partaking in child abuse is patently ridiculous. Although that's also true.
Not because my kids have been in CPS schools since kindergarten (for one) and preschool (for the other) and are receiving a fantastic education, socially, academically and in every other way. Although that's also true.
Because it's a way of quickly looking for a villain (those terrible parents!) and then waving away a deeply entrenched social problem (sexual violence) as not your problem. (I'd never let that happen to my kid!)
Because violence against children happens everywhere. In every town.
Because we rely on this approach, as a country, all too often and all too easily. (Kids getting tear gassed? Parents shouldn't have them at the border! Kids getting shot? Parents shouldn't live in those neighborhoods!)
Because we solve nothing when we absolve ourselves of the responsibility to protect children — when we pretend our own children are the only ones we need to bother advocating for. When we pretend parents whose circumstances don't mirror ours, by choice or by necessity, are failing their kids.
I don't begrudge any parents' decision to move where they want, raise their kids where they want or send their kids to school where they want. Each family has a unique set of circumstances, values, factors and priorities to weigh, and I wholeheartedly respect those.
But to call it child abuse when a family enrolls in the local school district is, to me, a way of distancing yourself from a problem you're uninterested in solving. And then, from that distance, blaming and shaming the folks who stay and try to solve it.
I am worried about children's safety — mine and other people's. I'm advocating for it loudly. And staying put while I do so.
New bill would make not buckling up kids child abuse in Florida
Newly filed legislation would impose stronger penalties for adults who don't properly restrain their children in a car
The Senate bill would allow incidents where unrestrained children are killed or injured to be investigated as child abuse.
In Florida, if your child isn't wearing a seatbelt, you face a minimum $60 fine.
Even still, Corporal Patricia Johnson Shaw with the Florida Highway Patrol says unrestrained children in vehicles remains a major problem.
“You'll have a lot of it actually when they're picked up from the schools and they're just jumping in the cars and the parents are taking off,” said Shaw.
Nationwide, in 2016, 723 children ages 12 years and younger died in motor vehicle crashes.
Of those, 35 percent weren't restrained.
“When you see that it's a child it takes it to heart,” said Shaw. "And knowing that, that child was not properly restrained, it makes it even worse."
A new bill filed for the 2019 session would allow the Department of Children and Families to investigate adults for child abuse if a child passenger is injured or killed because they weren't properly restrained.
A recent study found that in a single year more than 600,000 children in the US rode in a car at least once without a seat belt or car seat.
Corporal Shaw says kids are much more likely to ride unrestrained if their parents don't set a good example.
“The example that you set as a parent, that's the example the kids see,” said Shaw."If a kid doesn't see you strapped up, it's more likely that they wont strap up.”
Currently in Florida, children five and under are required to be restrained in a car or booster seat.
A House companion bill has not been filed yet, but is expected to come soon.
Multi-million pound child abuse case settled
THE case of two siblings, who were suing Health for what was believed to have been one of the largest personal injury claims in British legal history, has been settled – for an undisclosed amount.
On Wednesday, the Royal Court heard that an agreement had been reached between the siblings' counsel and the defence to pay the plaintiffs – who suffered a catalogue of sexual, physical and emotional abuse – a lump sum and an annual payment to meet their care costs for the rest of their lives.
The agreement comes following a lengthy trial this summer, which resulted in the Solicitor General intervening to tell the court it had the power to impose a Periodic Payment Order, which allocates damages payments in set intervals rather than in a lump sum. Previously, the Royal Court had allowed a PPO when both parties wanted such an order.
During the trial Advocate David Benest, who represented the plaintiffs, argued against the use of PPOs in the case and instead called for the siblings to be given a total lump sum between them of £162.1 million – a figure which had been reduced from £238 million when the case first opened.
However, yesterday Advocate Benest said that after closing arguments were heard and while the court was reaching its findings the parties had been able to reach an agreement which involved undisclosed PPOs and ‘substantive' lump sums to both siblings.
The PPOs will be used to pay for the siblings' ongoing 24-hour care which is likely to be for the rest of their lives, while the lump sum is a contingency fund for the future and also pays for general damages and the siblings' loss of earnings.
Following the hearing the JEP approached Advocate Benest to ask why the figures would not be disclosed.
He said: ‘It is best that they [the plaintiffs] are allowed to move on and live their lives after what has happened to them with some degree of privacy.'
When Advocate Lee Ingram, defending, was asked about the settlement he would not be drawn on the amounts but only said the payments would not be coming from the public purse.
Commissioner Pamela Scriven QC, said the trial heard that the siblings – one of whom lives in a secure unit in the UK and the other in a ‘highly supported environment' – had suffered a catalogue of abuse including being sexually abused, bitten, burnt and forced to live in ‘filthy conditions' and added that the plaintiffs were ‘two of the most damaged children' that the experts who gave evidence had encountered.
‘Two [siblings] were left in an appalling, abusive home some nine years after it should have been obvious that they needed to be removed,' she said. ‘That neglect has been accepted [by the defence] as a profound failure of the social care process.
‘As a result of that [the siblings] were subjected to systemic abuse of the most appalling kind throughout their young lives until they were removed from the home.'
She added: ‘The tragedy of the case is if they had been removed earlier and placed within a reasonable time for adoption it is accepted they would have been able to live relatively ordinary lives with the benefit of support from their adopted family, friends and community services.
‘The appalling outcome of the abuse from which they were not protected is that these two [plaintiffs] have been extraordinarily damaged. That damage will live with them for the rest of their lives.'
Ms Scriven said as the trial progressed ‘it had seemed to us that the evidence pointed more and more clearly' towards a PPO. She added due to the settlement it had not been necessary for the panel to determine if it had the power to impose such an order.
‘The parties in our view wisely agreed a form of order that we are in no doubt best meets the ends of justice – justice to both these plaintiffs and the States of Jersey,' Ms Scriven said.
She added that the court was ‘pleased to learn' that legislation regarding PPOs was being considered by the States – this week – as she said it ‘would have the great advantage of making the legal position clear and unambiguous in the future'.
Jurats Paul Nicolle and Sally Sparrow were sitting.
Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office shares what to look for if child abuse is suspected
By: Luke Burdsall
Combating the harsh reality of child abuse is something authorities do almost every day. Captain Billy Chapman is part of the criminal investigation division at the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office. An 8-person team that takes on child abuse cases throughout the parish.
"We've investigated all types of child abuse cases, some really horrific ones.” says Chapman, “We've had cases where children have been dipped into scolding hot water, cases where kids have been chained up in a closet or a bedroom. So there are a number of different scenarios that we've had to look into."
Chapman says he and his team work with the Department of Children and Family Services every week. So far this year, the Sheriff's Office has handled 162 child abuse cases, which is down from 234 in 2017. But those numbers are just for the Sheriff's Office and don't include other municipalities.
Chapman says not all cases get reported. He says there are signs to look for if you suspect a child to be the victim of abuse.
"There are a number of ways to determine if a child had been abused.” says Chapman, “Physical injuries, personal hygiene, if the kid hadn't bathed in a few days, dirty clothes. You know, teachers can pick up on that, school officials can pick up on that. Those are all clues that there is something going on at that home."
Chapman says it's the public's duty to look out for victims and make the call if abuse is suspected
“Always call.” says Chapman, “I mean it's not worth the risk, it's not worth thinking that, ‘Oh, it's probably something minor. Maybe I'm sticking my nose where it doesn't belong'. By gosh, if a child is getting abused, then we need to know about it. You'll sleep better at night if you make that call.”
If you Suspect a child to be the victim of child abuse, you can call Crime Stoppers, 9-1-1, or the Department of Child and Family Services.
Raisman urges education to help prevent child abuse
Two-time Olympian gymnast recounted her life and career experiences as a guest speaker at UAlbany
Aly Raisman has signed a few autographs in her day.
This is what happens when you're a multiple medalist in gymnastics at two Olympic Games and captain Team USA to the only back-to-back team gold medals ever.
Her signature means something to a lot of people.
It was never meant as much, though, as it does every time somebody joins the Flip the Switch movement urging people to learn how to recognize the signs of child sexual abuse and help prevent it through a program called Stewards of Children. Raisman personally signs each certificate of training, a program she herself has participated in and knows as well as anyone how vital it is.
Raisman, 24, was one of 156 women who provided victim impact statements at the sentencing hearing of Larry Nassar, the long-time Team USA doctor who was convicted as a serial child molester in the summer of 2017.
Monday night, she spoke in front of several thousand who attended the latest installment of UAlbany's Speaker Series at SEFCU Arena, drawing a standing ovation on her way in and her way out from a crowd well-mixed in gender and age. Some young girls practiced gymnastics moves in the aisle before Raisman arrived; between the ovations, her message went well beyond gymnastics.
"When I was watching it [Stewards of Children], you're learning so much, but you're also frustrated, because if the adults around me had been educated, then perhaps the abuse wouldn't have gotten to me and so many other people.
"I don't think a lot of people know that one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused by the age of 18. And those are just kids that speak up. Many of them don't."
That has been a particularly horrifying development in gymnastics, as evidenced by the Nassar trial and sentencing, during which it was revealed through testimony of abuse covering decades. USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic Committee have come under well-deserved fire for how they let this happen.
It's a sport that invites abuse of all kinds, since gymnasts usually flourish at a young, impressionable age, and are subject to obsessive control by coaches, who dictate diet habits and wield body-shaming as a powerful weapon.
That can come from a variety of directions.
Raisman said that, because of her muscular arms and shoulders, she felt self-conscious about her body all the way back to middle school, when she sometimes bested the boys during recess tests of physical prowess.
"The boys in my class would make fun of me," she said. "I would play games with them at recess, and sometimes I was better than them. I had the school record in middle school for doing the most pull-ups, and the boys in my class didn't like that."
"So they would make fun of me in front of everybody. They would say my muscles look disgusting, they would say that it looks like I was on steroids. So I was very self-conscious for a long time about wearing tanktops, until after the 2016 Olympics. From fifth grade. That just shows how powerful your words are."
It was the power of Raisman's words, along with the dozens of other victim statements, that brought to light the level of monstrous behavior Nassar engaged in over the years, ostensibly in the course of treating injuries.
The words didn't stop there.
Raisman and many other Team USA gymnasts have continued to blast the governing bodies of the sport to promote culture change.
In March, she signed on with the non-profit organization Darkness to Light, whose mission is to educate people on the red flags of child molestation, particularly in youth sports, and help prevent it.
Because of her high profile, she's in constant demand to speak out on this issue, which she's happy and obliged to do, while seeking the delicate balance between that responsibility and an even keel in her busy life.
"I'm learning that you can't please everyone," she said. "Coming from the sport of gymnastics, where the whole purpose is to make the judges happy and everyone around you happy, it's been hard for me to say, 'Well, this person's upset, so I should just do this.' If I said yes to everyting, I would be in the hospital.
"I'm grateful that people are listening to me, but I also want people to realize that it's hard and I'm human. It's OK to say no."
As Raisman points out, the abusers "thrive on silence."
They thrive on the ignorance of otherwise well-meaning people who aren't aware of the warning signs.
So she refuses to remain silent. She encourages people to educate themselves, especially through the Stewards of Children training.
One question moderator Kathryn Zox passed along from a gymnast in the audience asked what Raisman would change in her life. She was sexually abused, starting at the age of 15. She put herself through the gut-wrenching experience of facing her abuser in a courtroom, and recounting what he had done to her.
And her answer to the question was "Nothing."
"I could sit here and dwell on, obviously, I wish none of the abuse happened to anybody, or I wish I never got injured or never had a hard day, but that's not possible," she said. "All the hard times make you stronger, and as hard as it has been, I feel like I'll come out a bettter person, and I feel very lucky to have the platform that I have, and hopefully I can help people and people can see that I'm human and doing the best that I can.
Caregivers for 3,600 migrant teens reportedly lack complete abuse checks
Nearly every adult working with children in the U.S. -- from nannies to teachers to coaches -- has undergone state screenings to ensure they have no proven history of abusing or neglecting kids. One exception: thousands of workers at two federal detention facilities holding 3,600 migrant teens in the government's care, The Associated Press has learned.
The staff isn't being screened for child abuse and neglect at a Miami-based emergency detention center because Florida law bans any outside employer from reviewing information in its child welfare system. Until recently at another facility holding migrant teens in Tornillo, Texas, staff hadn't even undergone FBI fingerprint checks, let alone child welfare screenings, a government report found.
The missing screening at both sites involves searching child protective services systems to see whether potential employees had a verified allegation of abuse, neglect or abandonment, which could range from having a foster child run away from a group home to failing to take a sick child to the hospital. These allegations often are not criminally prosecuted and therefore wouldn't show up in other screenings.
Tornillo has 2,100 staff for about 2,300 teens; Homestead has 2,000 staff for about 1,300 teens.
The two facilities can operate unlicensed and without required checks because they are located on federal property and thus don't have to comply with state child welfare laws. Tornillo is on Customs and Border Protection land along the U.S.-Mexico border, and Homestead is on a former Labor Department Jobs Corps site.
Last week, bipartisan lawmakers from Texas and beyond called for swift reforms and public hearings after the AP reported that the government put thousands of teens at risk at Tornillo by waiving the security screenings and having fewer mental health workers than needed. And on Tuesday, two members of Congress called for the immediate shutdown of Tornillo.
The government report said the screenings were waived at Tornillo because the agency was under pressure to open the camp quickly and the federal government erroneously assumed staff members already had FBI fingerprint checks.
Except for Homestead, every child shelter and foster care facility in Florida -- including two others holding migrant children -- runs employees' names through child protective services records.
Some detention centers for migrant children not subject to state inspections
State law prohibits the Florida Department of Children and Families from sharing results of those checks more widely due to concerns that child protective services might be reluctant to flag an individual, and thereby avoid providing services such as parenting classes for them, if it could put the person's job in jeopardy.
Health and Human Services Department spokesman Mark Weber said Homestead didn't need the extensive background screenings.
"Child abuse and neglect checks were waived because of the limitations in the state of Florida and the fingerprint background checks conducted on employees would show relevant information," he said.
Tornillo launched a month-long program to run staff through FBI fingerprint checks last week in response to a wave of public pressure prompted by the government memo and media reports about the lack of staff screening there.
Child welfare experts say child abuse and neglect background screenings are typically required because some people who hurt children may never be convicted of criminal charges serious enough to warrant an FBI red flag but could be charged civilly, which would appear only in state registries.
"An FBI background check doesn't provide a full and complete picture of that individual's criminal history," said Alonzo Martinez, associate counselor for compliance at HireRight, a private employer background check service. Local police departments aren't required to enter fingerprints of offenders in the FBI database and deeper checks - including reviewing state and county child abuse registries - can turn up different information about potential applicants, Martinez said.
During his time serving as the director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, Scott Lloyd granted screening waivers for both Homestead and Tornillo, which was allowed under federal rules since the shelters were opened on a temporary basis. Homestead has been open for eight months and Tornillo for five, however, with no indication they will close.
In August, Lloyd wrote a letter to the Washington Post defending the shelters, saying, "The same standard of care we expect for your kids and mine we expect for the kids in Office of Refugee Resettlement care."
The contractors for both detention centers -- Comprehensive Health Services for Homestead, and BCFS Health and Human Services for Tornillo -- deferred to HHS for comment. HHS said it is working to safely care for all children referred to the agency.
The Obama administration opened Homestead as a temporary shelter for up to 800 migrant teens for 10 months in 2016. Since then, the federal government has budgeted more than $330 million for the for-profit company to operate the facility, according to an AP review of federal contracts. The review found that Tornillo could cost taxpayers as much as $430 million this year.
A memo obtained by the AP shows the ORR director at the time, Robert Carey, also waived child abuse and neglect background checks for Homestead staff during the Obama administration.
Children at Homestead wear government-issued clothes and live in dormitory-style bedrooms in a tightly guarded compound surrounded by chain-link fence. At Tornillo, they sleep in bunk beds inside canvas tents; outside temperatures near 100 in the summer and are below freezing on winter nights.
The 13- to 17-year-olds held at Homestead and Tornillo weren't separated from their families at the border this summer. They remain in government custody in part because new federal requirements mandating more stringent background checks on their families have slowed their reunifications, filling shelter beds around the country to capacity. Almost all the teens at both facilities entered the U.S. on their own, hoping to join relatives or friends.
Neha Desai, immigration director at the Oakland-based National Center for Youth Law, said that the federal government is required to hold children in licensed facilities when they are detained for more than a short period of time.
"Homestead's failure to perform child abuse and neglect checks on its staff is just another reason that the government in no circumstances should be holding children there for more than a few days at a time," said Desai. "Yet, we know that numerous children are languishing there for months on end.