| Today's NAASCA news:
April 19, 2014
HSI Cyber Crimes Center's victim identification efforts featured in Bloomberg Business Week
WASHINGTON — The latest work being done by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) to identify child victims of sexual exploitation was highlighted as part of a recent article by Bloomberg Business Week on the various global law enforcement agencies, non-profits and technology companies working to combat the spread of online child pornography.
The story features a case referred to the HSI Cyber Crimes Center (C3) by Danish police in September 2012, which uncovered child abuse images on the Darknet's The Onion Router, or Tor, that were believed to have originated in the United States. C3's Child Exploitation Investigation Unit used the latest technology and software tools to find and analyze clues in the images: a blurred-out prescription bottle with partial name and prescription information, the interior car which helped determine make and model and a photo with a close-up of the suspect's hand that yielded partial fingerprints. The clues led to the identification of 15 victimized children and to the perpetrator, Stephen A. Keating, of Jesup, Ga., who was apprehended by HSI Savannah last summer and sentenced to 110 years and ordered to pay $1.2 million in restitution to his victims.
Read the online story on Bloomberg or Business Week.
Autopsy to ID Dead Boy; Body Cast Off Side of Road
WORCESTER, Mass. (AP) — All Massachusetts authorities could say for sure is that they found the lifeless body of a small boy, apparently cast off the side of a highway.
An autopsy should reveal if the child is Jeremiah Oliver, the Fitchburg 5-year-old missing for months before police learned of his disappearance and began looking for him. Jeremiah's case has led to criminal charges against his mother and her boyfriend and calls for changes within the state's child welfare agency. Three state workers have been fired.
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‘‘What we know right now is that a young child has died, and that his body has been disposed of in a heartless way,'' Gov. Deval Patrick said in a statement Friday. ‘‘As we await news about the child's identity, as Governor and as a parent, I feel a deep sadness.''
The body found off a highway in central Massachusetts matched Jeremiah's height and weight, authorities said. Worcester County District Attorney Joseph Early Jr. said authorities can't make a positive identification until the state medical examiner conducts an autopsy.
‘‘It appears to be a homicide,'' the prosecutor said at a news conference.
Jeremiah was last seen by relatives in September but wasn't reported missing until December. Authorities have said they feared he was dead.
Early said the body was found at about 9 a.m. Friday by a police search team about 40 feet off Interstate 190 near Sterling, which is about 12 miles from Fitchburg. He said it was wrapped in blanket-like material, and packed in material that resembled a suitcase.
He would not say what led authorities to the location, or how long the body may have been there. He said the site is near an area that is regularly mowed on the side of the highway but would not have been visible to passing cars.
Jeremiah's mother, Elsa Oliver, 28, pleaded not guilty in March to charges including kidnapping, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and reckless endangerment. Her boyfriend, Alberto Sierra, 23, pleaded not guilty to similar charges.
The family was being monitored by state social workers since 2011. And after Jeremiah's disappearance, their case led to intense scrutiny of the state Department of Children and families.
Three employees of the agency — a social worker, a supervisor and an area manager — were fired after an internal investigation. Officials said the social worker had not made required monthly visits to the family.
The governor asked the Child Welfare League of America to review DCF but resisted calls from some lawmakers to fire Olga Roche, the agency's commissioner.
In an initial report filed by the league last month, it recommended that Massachusetts take a number of steps to shore up its child welfare system, including boosting staffing levels to reduce social worker caseload.
A separate report from the state's Child Advocate, Gail Garinger, suggested that state social workers missed nearly one in five home visits during a recent 12-month period, though state officials said the figure was likely overstated.
Roche assured state legislators in January that DCF had accounted for the safety of all other young children in its care.
Oliver and Sierra, who were indicted by a Worcester County grand jury, are both being held on bail — $100,000 for Oliver and $250,000 for Sierra.
Three other people have been charged with interfering with a criminal investigation and misleading police in connection with the case.
Child Sex Abuse Survivors Speak Out: "I'm Ready to Say It: I Was Abused"
When 28-year-old Dylan Farrow wrote an angry open letter in The New York Times accusing her adoptive father, Woody Allen, of sexually molesting her at age seven, America exploded with opinions. Many readers believed her every word, their opinions of Allen forever tarnished; others suspected that her mother, actress Mia Farrow, had put Dylan up to it—or even that Dylan was flat-out lying. But whatever you think of the case itself (no charges were filed against Allen when the allegation was investigated more than 20 years ago, and he continues to deny any guilt), Dylan's passionate public words ignited a conversation about child sex abuse—and sparked all kinds of personal memories for survivors. Listen in as three of them tell you their heroic tales of healing, moving on, getting justice...and finding peace.
Confronted My Abuser—and Then I Forgave Him
I grew up in a small city in Missouri, and my parents were so normal—Dad was a teacher, Mom a secretary. But I always knew we were different from other families. My father sat me on his lap to open his Playboy and Penthouse magazines and walked around in front of me naked.
At first, when he'd come into my bedroom after I was asleep—I'd smell the alcohol on his breath—he'd lie on me and put his fingers inside me. At some point between when I was seven and 10 (that's how much I blocked it out), it was his penis.
I can't remember how many times my father raped me. I turned to food, but I also immersed myself in schoolwork—all the way through medical school. And I became an emergency room physician because being the calm person in the middle of chaos felt so familiar to me.
I was getting a facial three years ago when the aesthetician put a warm washcloth over my face—the same way my father used to smother me with a teddy bear. ("Just lie quietly," he'd say before raping me.) I jumped up, paid, and ran to my car. I was crying so hard I couldn't drive. I sat there in solitude and started yelling what I had not yelled when I was nine: "Help me! Help me! Help me! "
That year I talked to a psychiatrist about whether I should report my father. He wasn't around kids anymore; he was 65. We decided we'd think about it for a week and then make a decision.
Almost exactly a week later, my father was hit by a car. I flew to Kansas City, Missouri, and walked into his intensive care room. I asked to be alone with him. There, bending over his face, I told him that I remembered everything and that for him to do something that terrible to me, something terrible must have happened to him. I told him I wished somebody had loved him when he was little.
And then I told him I forgave him.
Minutes later, he stopped breathing. I know that my father was waiting for those words from me.
—Jennifer Hanes, 39, an emergency room physician and mother of two in Austin, Texas
I'm Still Getting Stronger Every Day
My stepfather, an Air Force sergeant, pled guilty to indecent acts with a minor, including touching and kissing my private parts and making me touch his. He went to prison for three years, but he still didn't get it. He wrote me letters from prison about the music he was listening to and how he was working out—as if he'd done nothing wrong! Yes, he was punished, but it was not enough compensation for my suffering or truthfulness.
I'd finally told a counselor about the abuse when I was almost 13, after trying to commit suicide. And even after he was sentenced, I continued to struggle—dropping out of school at one point, cutting boys' names into my arms, feeling like a toy to them with no self-worth, running away. Then I had a son at 19, and that kicked everything into full gear for me. I eventually accepted what I can't change and decided to help other victims. I went to college. I juggled three part-time jobs. I am now a buyer for an aviation company—and every day a stronger person.
—Trisha Fielding, 34, a retail buyer for an aviation company and a mother of one in Titusville, Florida
I Worked With Cops to Convict My Rapist
It was two years ago that I made the "cold call." As I stood there with two detectives, I dialed my abuser's number, ready to lure him into a friendly chat about our "relationship." The cops had tapped his line. I wanted evidence.
I'd met this man—my friend's dad—10 years earlier. At 13 I wanted to be an artist, and he was an incredible painter. Extremely cunning, he saw from the get-go that I was naive and vulnerable, devoutly Christian, and unhappy at home. "I know what you're going through," he'd say. "Your parents don't understand you." I started coming over once a week. I'd sit on his couch; he'd scoot closer to me, grab my hand. "You're beautiful," he said one day. Then he kissed me. I was 13. It was my first kiss. Within a couple of months, he was forcing me to perform oral sex on him. I felt very confused. I didn't realize I was being worked over by a master manipulator. When I was 14, he started raping me, keeping me around with threats, saying things like "If God brought us together, who are you to rip us apart?"
But I started to see through him, and by the time I was a sophomore in college, he was out my life. Physically, at least. When I fell into the most severe depression imaginable, I knew I needed to tell the police.
The case took a while, but he pled guilty to sexual abuse of a minor and will serve jail time. I'll never forget how nauseated I felt during that cold call, pretending to have even the slightest bit of affection for this guy. I made myself talk sweetly, but the whole time I was so angry, I kept giving the phone the finger! After I hung up, one of the detectives said, "I almost started laughing when you did that. I'm so proud of you."
—Liz Rattan, 25, a recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania
Counselor responds to study linking child abuse to excessive drinking
by Brett Luster
ALTON — A WellSpring Resources director responded to a study indicating people who were abused as children are more likely to drink alcohol saying there is hope for those at risk via therapy.
WellSpring is a mental wellness resource based at 2615 Edwards St. in Alton, and serves four counties in the Metro St. Louis area.
According to a study published earlier this year in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, college students with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) drink more alcohol than their peers.
In addition to problems normally associated with alcohol abuse, the students' heavier drinking also exacerbates their PTSD symptoms, the study found.
WellSpring Resources Director of Counseling Services Erin Bickle confirmed the study based on her research, saying that some people who were abused during childhood sometimes turn to drinking to mask the pain.
But there is help Bickle said, through cognitive behavioral therapy which WellSpring offers.
Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on examining the relationships between thoughts, feelings and behaviors.
“By exploring patterns of thinking that lead to self-destructive actions and the beliefs that direct these thoughts, people with mental illness can modify their patterns of thinking to improve coping,” Bickle said.
According to Bickle, offering people a chance to tell their stories is big and WellSpring provides therapy in either an individual or group setting.
Ulitmately she said there is hope for people who have been abused and have a propensity toward alcoholism.
“WellSpring Resources has a staff of trained professionals who work with consumers to personalize therapy based on each individual's needs and goals. Getting past childhood abuse can be difficult, but with professional assistance, it can make a real difference in people's lives,” she said.
You can view testimonials from people who have had success through treatment at WellSpring Resources at www.wellspringresources.co/resources/success-stories
Black Men Who Were Sexually Abused as Kids, and Why Some Didn't Know It
Keeping Black Men Healthy: Most of these celebrities were riddled with fear and shame, while some responded to the reality of their abuse with resistance or humor.
by Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele
hat is especially sinister about child molesters is that they often take advantage of a child's ignorance about sex to perpetuate the assault.
When Oprah Winfrey spoke to admitted child abusers and their therapists about the tactics and strategies they used to groom their victims, one of the most disturbing revelations was when the predators described how they could manipulate the assault so that it felt good for the victim.
“That confuses the child into blaming themselves when it's never the victim's fault,” Oprah said during the interview. Oprah was the victim of a rape at age 9, and molestation from age 9 to 14.
There are several instances in which famous African-American men—only after having spoken about their early sexual encounters (often with women who were much, much older than they were)—realized or, more often than not, were told that they might have been victims of sexual abuse.
In part 3 of The Root series Keeping Black Men Healthy (read parts 1 and 2), we look at celebrities who shared these personal stories of child abuse, with a particular emphasis on the aforementioned kind of abuse: men who either did not understand or did not completely agree that they were, in fact, sexually assaulted as children. The stories of R&B star Chris Brown and New York City radio and TV personality Charlamagne Tha God come to mind.
Their experiences shed light on the role that race and gender can play with regard to sexual predation, and how young black men are not often raised to think of themselves as capable of being victims of sexual activity. In fact, some black boys perceive most sexual activity as “a source of pride—or a rite of passage—instead of abuse.”
R. Kelly's experience sits on the side of the spectrum that suggests he had a healthy awareness of the foul play taking place during his assault. In his 2012 autobiography, Soulacoaster: The Diary of Me , the R&B icon describes how he grew up in a house full of women who walked around half-naked, and that one woman in particular would have a young Robert take pictures of her and her partner having sex.
Another woman began to sexually abuse Kelly when he was 10 years old and did so for several years. The silver lining to this—however faint—is that Kelly described how he felt ashamed about the molestation, which is a normal reaction for a young child who was forced into such horrid acts. It suggests that he immediately knew something was awry.
Robert would go on to gain notoriety for an infatuation with dating underaged females and was accused of child pornography, which is evidence, perhaps, of how these sorts of things are cyclical and perpetuate themselves from victim to abuser and back again.
When Brown told The Guardian that he lost his virginity at age 8 to a 14- or 15-year-old girl, it sent commentators into a frenzy. The Root' s Keli Goff argued that a lot of his issues as an adult likely stemmed from that traumatic incident, especially since the trauma went undiagnosed: Brown attributed the incident to normal activities that typically occur in the country.
The Root columnist Jozen Cummings http://www.theroot.com/articles/culture/2013/10/chris_brown_and_virginity_what_we_can_learn.html weighed in from a man's perspective, explaining that as shocking as it may be for some people to believe, 8-year-old boys think about sex, and some of them are already having it—consensually. While the incident may have been characterized as “rape” from a legal standpoint (because both Brown and the girl were under the age of 18), Cummings suggests that the charged language we use to label these sorts of incidents doesn't translate the same in certain parts of the country where this behavior is the norm. It's probably why Brown was allegedly grinning and chuckling during the interview when he told this story, and why he might react to the opinion (or fact?) that he was raped with skepticism and denial.
The CNN anchor spoke about being sexually abused as a child in his 2011 memoir Transparent but first spoke about it during a televised interview with a group of young men who accused Atlanta mega-church pastor Eddie Long of sexually abusing them.
During the interview, Lemon was well-versed on the issue and wanted to communicate the fact that child abusers don't fit a certain profile—they come in all shapes and sizes.
In early 2013, shock-jock radio personality Charlamagne Tha God tweeted about how he received fellatio from a 20-something-year-old female when he was just 8 years old.
His suggestion that he may have some unprocessed thoughts and feelings to work through as a result of that happening is duly noted. However, every now and then the radio emcee references this incident in a humorous manner during his radio program, seemingly brushing it off or downplaying its relevance in his life.
In a candid interview with The Root in 2012, the R&B singer described the sexual abuse he was subjected to, beginning at the age of 6, and explained why it took him nearly 12 years to tell anyone about it: “There was a feeling of powerlessness. In my case, it was violent and there was bullying attached to it. It created the fear of ‘Don't tell anybody, or I'll really hurt you.' It was an ongoing thing, and it happened in church, often.”
Patterson profoundly summarizes how early abuse and sexuality are irrevocably linked because those experiences thrust young children into an introduction to sex that they didn't get “to discover on their own.”
Who can forget Perry's appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show, when he spoke about the sexual abuse he endured as a child by four different adults, including a friend's mother, and the ongoing physical abuse he received from his father and grandmother.
Perry described how the molestation, particularly by the adult men, left him confused sexually:
How could it not? I knew I liked the little girls in the neighborhood, but this man was doing something to me and my body kept betraying me. It took me all of my 20s to figure out what this was that this man had given me to carry inside of my heterosexuality that did not belong to me. This is why so many men will not talk about this—the shame of having to admit that. And there is no textbook definition for what molestation does to someone. Each individual is different.