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January 31, 2005

Jackson Allegations Put Focus On Child Abuse In OKC Area

January 31, 2005 [KOCO ChannelOklahoma.com]

While jury selection began in the Michael Jackson trial Monday, state leaders and child welfare workers were working to raise awareness of the problem of child abuse in Oklahoma.

On Monday evening, Oklahoma first lady Kim Henry took part in a candlelight vigil at Norman's Alcott Middle School to remember the victims of child abuse and neglect in Oklahoma. At the same time, several metro-area organizations were working to stop child abuse -- and many counselors said the problem is more common than many Oklahomans might think.

Counselors at the Parents Assistance Center told Eyewitness News 5's Rachel Kim that parents from a variety of backgrounds come to themget help. They said clients at the center learn many things based on a core idea: that peace begins at home.

Although it's not uncommon for parents to get into arguments with their children, counselors said, many parents who have sought help from the Parents Assistance Center have allowed their arguments to escalate into violence.

"Robert," whose real name has been withheld for privacy reasons, knows that fact all too well. He said that he didn't realize the damage he was doing when he verbally and physically abused his 14-year-old son for lying.

"I hit him ... I said bad things to him," Robert said. "(I) left bruises on him (and) scratched his face up."

Robert's counselor, Vicky Brooks, said Robert abused his son because he himself was abused. But the biggest reason abuse happens, Brooks said, is stress and a lack of understanding when it comes to controlling emotions.

"I don't think it's uncommon for parents to have thoughts like that every now and then," Brooks said. "But it's important to prepare yourself. That stress could get to you and becoming overloading at times."

According to Brooks, anyone who is given the right set of circumstances and stress factors in his or her life could wind up abusing his or her child. Robert said that after he took time to learn about his own circumstances, he changed his outlook on how to deal with stressful situations at home.

"There's no need for violence," he said. "There's no need for bad words. I've learned to listen to my kids. I'm no longer angry, (and) I realized that I can take my time."

Brooks said that many parents like Robert are putting off counseling and need to get help.

"They need to do all the things necessary for a healthy lifestyle," she said. "They need to eat right, they need to exercise (and) they need to have friends and social support."

Substance abuse is another major factor that can lead to child abuse, Brooks said. In addition, she said that 50 to 75 percent of domestic violence cases become child abuse cases.

Parents who would like more information and who want to get help can contact the Parents Assistance Center at 232-8226.

Posted by Nancy at 06:12 PM | Comments (0)

January 30, 2005

Open child abuse hearings go well

January 30, 2005 [Associated Press] By Katharine Webster

CONCORD, NH — A small ray of sunshine is creeping into one of the most secretive parts of the state court system: child abuse and neglect hearings.

Usually only the most horrific cases become public, when criminal charges are filed against an adult, because criminal cases are open under constitutional guarantees of a fair trial.

Those cases represent the tip of the iceberg. The majority of abuse and neglect cases are civil and so secretive that only the accused, the prosecutor and witnesses can attend — not foster parents, not grandparents.

Now, under a pilot project, family courts in Grafton and Rockingham counties let anyone attend child abuse and neglect hearings, although judges still may close all or part of them if there is a good reason. Also, those who attend are warned it is illegal to disclose information that could identify a child or parent.

Still, the pilot project could shed light on how well judges, police, court-appointed guardians, social workers and the state Division for Children, Youth and Families do their jobs and whether elected officials are providing enough money for child protection and services for families, advocates say.

"It puts some sunlight on the process and, as we all know, sunlight is the best disinfectant," said former state Sen. Ned Gordon, R-Bristol, a lawyer who handles family law cases.

"People are forbidden by law from commenting on the hearings and could be prosecuted if they criticize DCYF," Gordon said. "That's wrong."

Gordon introduced a bill in 2002 to open abuse and neglect cases and related hearings, such as those to terminate someone's parental rights. Instead, the Legislature set up the pilot project in Grafton County, then expanded it to Rockingham County last July.

The move follows a national trend toward greater openness in such cases, reversing a nationwide move decades earlier to close nearly all cases centered on children: juvenile delinquency cases, abuse and neglect hearings, and even divorce and child custody disputes in some states.

According to a July 2003 survey by the national Conference of Chief Justices, one state — Oregon — now requires that all abuse and neglect hearings be open; 13 states presume they are open but give judges the discretion to close them; and nine states presume they are closed but allow judges to open them.

Six states close them to the general public, but allow people with an interest in a particular case to attend, and 19 states (including New Hampshire) and the District of Columbia mandate complete closure. Ohio has no presumption of either openness or closure and Nevada is conducting a pilot project similar to New Hampshire's.

Steve Varnum is the public policy director of the Children's Alliance of New Hampshire. He supports more openness to educate the public about the division's work. At the same time, he thinks children's and parents' identities should be scrupulously protected.

"DCYF is not about yanking kids out of homes and putting them in foster care," said Varnum, who covered the agency for years as a Concord Monitor reporter.

"That represents a very small percentage, and even in most of those cases kids are going to return home, so it's about more than protecting kids — it's about making families whole, and that's hard to do in an atmosphere where everyone in a small town knows the horrible abuses that have gone on in a family," he said.

Warren Lindsey, an attorney for the division who has handled cases in Grafton County, said he asks judges to close hearings when they involve allegations a child has been sexually assaulted, but otherwise has no problem with them being open. At the same time, protecting the identity of children is critical, he said.

"We want people to know what we do," Lindsey said. "It's always a difficult balancing act. ... When people come forward, it's extremely traumatic for them."

Judge Edwin Kelly, chief justice of the state's district courts, believes the pilot project "has come very close to the ideal" in striking that balance.

In the pilot project, judges are supposed to close testimony involving a child's medical and psychological history and close hearings entirely when the child is present, although that's rare, Kelly said. All written records in civil abuse and neglect cases remain sealed, as does the docket.

That leads to some contradictory results, Kelly acknowledged. In cases that lead to criminal charges, earlier civil actions remain sealed, making it difficult to learn about any abuse complaints involving the same victim or perpetrator and how authorities responded.

And while reporters can attend abuse and neglect hearings at random, they cannot get the schedule of future hearings or records in a particular case from the court, making it hard for them to be watchdogs for the public.

Kelly, who advocates more openness, hopes the Legislature will reconcile the contradictions.

"I would advocate for the widest open procedures that we could have without disclosing intimate psychological, medical and other details," Kelly said. "Any bureaucracy has to be and ought to be held accountable for how it conducts its business."

He said there were no problems during the pilot project's first two years in Grafton County.

State Rep. Carolyn Gargasz, chairwoman of the legislative committee overseeing the project, is most concerned with making sure people accused of abuse or neglect are allowed to have friends or family members in the courtroom.

Gargasz, R-Hollis, wants to assess the effect of openness on families before deciding whether to open hearings statewide.

Closed hearings sometimes become public when one party or side goes public. That was the case last summer in a Massachusetts courtroom when a New Hampshire boy, Patrick Holland, sought to terminate the parental rights of his father, who had murdered Patrick's mother. The only person free to speak with the media, because he was not a party to the case, was Patrick's guardian, Ron Lazisky, of Sandown, N.H.

When The Associated Press challenged the case's closure, the judge said he would like to open it so reporters could hear all sides, but state law required him to close it.

Posted by Nancy at 06:56 PM | Comments (0)

January 29, 2005

Wife of accuser testifies in ex-priest's abuse trial

Jan. 29, 2005 [Associated Press]

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - The wife of a man who has accused defrocked priest Paul Shanley of raping him as a child testified Friday that he had night sweats and curled up in the fetal position on the floor after recovering memories of the abuse.

The woman took the witness stand after her husband finished more than 10 hours of testimony over three days, much of it under grueling and graphic cross-examination by Shanley's attorney.

The man returned to the stand Friday morning despite begging the judge a day earlier to spare him further questioning. That had raised the possibility that the case would collapse, because he is the lone accuser of Shanley, 74, one of the central figures in the Boston Archdiocese's clergy sex-abuse scandal. Three other accusers were dropped from the case by prosecutors.

The accuser, now a 27-year-old firefighter, says Shanley raped and molested him at a Newton parish beginning when he was 6. He says he didn't remember the abuse until early 2002, when he heard a friend's account of being abused as a boy by Shanley.

His wife testified that he became distraught during a phone conversation when she told him about a newspaper article in which the friend told of the alleged abuse. She was living near Boston at the time, and her then-boyfriend was serving at an Air Force base in Colorado.

"He said he was going to be sick, he had to go, he couldn't talk," she said.

She said he returned to Massachusetts four days later. On the first night of his visit, she said, he became upset again.

"He woke up. He was very agitated and restless. He had soaked the sheets with sweat," she said, her voice cracking. "He got on the floor, curled up in a ball. He shook."

"I tried to hold him, but he wouldn't let me," she said.

Earlier, Shanley's attorney Frank Mondano grilled the accuser about his troubled childhood, his abuse of alcohol and steroids, his gambling habit and his motivation for coming forward.

Mondano has said that the man made up his story to cash in on the multimillion-dollar settlements to victims of the Boston scandal. He has also said he will call expert witnesses to debunk the science behind repressed memories.

The trial is expected to resume Monday.

Posted by Nancy at 07:35 PM | Comments (0)

Fighting Child Sexual Abuse

January 29, 2005 [The Winchester Star] By Kevin Killen

Education is the key to combating sexual abuse among children, officials said during a recent meeting of the Community Safety and Services Committee.

The committee is chaired by Winchester Commonwealth’s Attorney Alexander R. Iden.

Investigator Andrew Vipperman gave the committee his insight into sexual abuse against children.

Vipperman, who does a majority of the interviews of sexual abuse allegations for the police department, said the community has a lot of resources to use to battle the problem.

“The police, courts, and social services, have been great helping battle this crime,” Vipperman said.

He said it is really tough to have to talk to a child about being abused, and also said many children usually disclose their abuse in a variety of ways.

Oftentimes, abuse never gets reported because the child has fear, feels guilty for what happened, and is afraid of the punishment from the family, Vipperman said.

One of the best ways Vipperman said to help children talk about the abuse is let them talk about it any way they can.

“If it’s a picture, let them draw it. If it’s something else that symbolizes the act, let them tell it,” he said.

Vipperman said once the alleged abuse is revealed, the long process of healing and helping can begin.

But, because those channels can reach so many people before the courts get a case, that can make the process arduous for the victim and the family.

Prosecuting accused offenders of child sexual abuse is not always a win, said Iden, who has prosecuted abuse cases in his nearly four years as Commonwealth’s Attorney.

He said it is not easy prosecuting an alleged abuse case, and juries are never a guarantee.

“Sometimes, people do not want to believe this happens, but it does,” Iden said. “But education and help from the resources we have can inform people there is a problem.”

Posted by Nancy at 07:26 PM | Comments (0)

January 28, 2005

Judge rules that child accuser must face Michael Jackson in court

January 28, 2005 [Associated Press]

SANTA MARIA, United States (AFP) - The teenage boy who accused pop icon Michael Jackson of child abuse must face the superstar in open court, a judge ruled.

Judge Rodney Melville made the critical decision over prosecutors' objections in the last pre-trial hearing ahead of Monday's official start of the trial of one of the most famous people ever to face justice on such serious criminal charges.

But while ruling that the 15-year-old alleged victim and his 14-year-old brother must testify in open court instead of from behind closed doors, Melville warned he would not tolerate any intimidation of the children.

"Whether I keep an open courtroom will depend on what happens during their testimony," Melville said, warning he would tolerate no "hand gestures, mutterings" or any other expressions towards the children from the gallery.

"It is critical there be no disruption in their testimony," he told the rival lawyers in the case after Jackson's lawyers won their bid to force the boys to testify in open court.

The boy alleged to authorities that Jackson had sexually molested him on several occasions in early 2003 at Neverland Ranch, near the California town of Santa Maria where the legal proceedings are taking place.

Prosecutors claim in their charges against the pop star that the boy's younger brother witnessed two of the alleged incidents and will call both boys to testify about the alleged incidents.

Prosecutors had moved to shield the boys from the glare of publicity when they take the witness stand, but Jackson's attorneys said it was unfair for the accusers to give evidence via an audio feed from a closed room while Jackson, 46, had to face the world's scrutiny.

Prosecutor Gordon Auchincloss told Melville that the boys would be stigmatised and shamed by their testimony if it was given in front of the press and public.

He said the brothers and their family already changed their schools, their names and had been forced to "hide out" since their intimate allegations first made world headlines in November 2003.

"The shame involved in a child consenting to these acts is unbelievable, Auchincloss said, claiming Jackson had bought the boys' silence through gifts and other alleged wiles.

"To anyone who thinks we should put these young boys in the path of this train, I ask how would you feel if it was your child?" he said.

But Jackson's chief lawyer Thomas Mesereau disputed the portrayal of the boys as being vulnerable victims in need of the court's protection, suggesting that the motive for the claims against Jackson was financial.

"They are in their mid-teens and are not tiny little children. They are not the little lambs the prosecutor says they are," Mesereau said rebuffing Auchincloss's argument.

He stressed that every aspect of Jackson's life had come under scrutiny since his November 2003 arrest, so it was fair that those who first made the claims against the singer should be made to do so in public.

"At least let Michael Jackson, who is on trial in a public proceeding, confront his accusers in a public proceeding," Mesereau told the judge.

Jackson has denied 10 charges, including child molestation and an alleged plot to kidnap and falsely imprison the boy and his family. His trial starts with jury selection on Monday.

Posted by Nancy at 07:28 PM | Comments (0)

Child Abuse Victims Advocate Steele Dies

January 28, 2005 [Associated Press]

DENVER - Dr. Brandt F. Steele, a psychiatrist who helped pioneer the treatment of child abuse victims and coined the term "battered child," died Jan. 19. He was 97

In a 1962 paper, Steele and longtime associate Dr. C. Henry Kempe, a pediatrician, became the first to detail the physical and psychological symptoms of child abuse by parents, dubbing the result "battered child syndrome."

The paper was pronounced one of the 20th century's 50 most important medical contributions by The Journal of the American Medical Association.

Steele and Kempe also were first to document that abusers themselves often were childhood victims of abuse and neglect.

Steele grew up in Indiana, attended Indiana University and studied under Alfred Kinsey, who later became famous for his research on sexuality.

He later joined the faculty of the University of Colorado Medical School.

Posted by Nancy at 07:19 PM | Comments (0)

January 27, 2005

Lawyer for accused priest challenges man's claim

In cross-examination, accuser says his life spiraled downward
Janaury 27, 2005 [Associated Press]

CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts (AP) -- The lawyer for defrocked priest Paul Shanley sought to undermine the credibility of his accuser Thursday, grilling the man under cross-examination about his troubled childhood, abuse of alcohol and steroids, and gambling.

The man testified for a second day of Shanley's rape trial, one of the few cases in which prosecutors have been able to bring charges against priests accused of molesting boys decades ago.

The man, now a 27-year-old firefighter, is the lone accuser remaining in the case. He says Shanley raped and molested him at a Newton parish over a period of six years, beginning when he was 6.

He says he didn't recover memories of the abuse until early 2002, when he heard a friend's account of being abused as a boy by Shanley, one of the central figures in the Boston Archdiocese's clergy sex abuse scandal.

But Shanley's lawyer, Frank Mondano, has implied that the man's account was tailored to conform to those of three other alleged victims who were dropped from the case by prosecutors.

The accuser said his mother left him when he was 3 years old, and his father beat him. Under a barrage of questions from Mondano, he also acknowledged that he drank heavily and abused steroids for eight years starting when he was 16. He also said he gambled away hundreds of dollars at a time.

He blamed his steroid use on Shanley, saying the sexual abuse caused him to develop a "poor self-image."

Steroids "just made me feel better about myself," said the accuser, who said he once smuggled steroids across the border from Mexico. "I just thought I looked better."

Plaintiffs in the hundreds of lawsuits filed over the clergy sex abuse scandal have made similar claims that they spiraled into lives of drug abuse and depression after being molested by Roman Catholic priests.

Mondano challenged claims the man made his lawsuit, which he settled with the archdiocese last year for $500,000. In it, the man blamed Shanley for his difficulty maintaining relationships and for his failure to realize his dream of playing major league baseball.

"This, too, you blame on Paul Shanley?" Mondano asked.

"Absolutely," the accuser said.

Mondano has said the man made up his story to cash in on the multimillion-dollar settlements paid to victims of the Boston scandal.

The man testified Wednesday that Shanley would pull him from Sunday morning catechism classes at St. Jean's parish and sexually abuse him in the church pews, confessional, rectory and bathroom. He said the abuse began when he was 6 and continued until 1989, when he was 12.

"He'd unzip my pants," the accuser said. "Sometimes he would kneel down and try to teach me how to perform oral sex."

Shanley faces three charges of raping a child and two charges of indecent assault and battery on a child. He could get life in prison if convicted.

His case became one of the most notorious in the abuse scandal because personnel records released by the archdiocese showed that church officials knew Shanley publicly advocated sex between men and boys, yet continued to transfer him from parish to parish.

The case hinges on the concept of repressed memory, in which past experiences are suppressed in the subconscious until a trigger brings them back.

Shanley's accuser said the scandal in Boston triggered his 20-year-old memories of being molested. But Mondano has questioned the timing and validity of those memories and said he would call expert witnesses to debunk the science behind repressed memories.

Most of the priests accused in hundreds of civil lawsuits avoided prosecution because the alleged crimes were committed so long ago that charges were barred by the statute of limitations. But because Shanley moved out of Massachusetts, the clock stopped. He was arrested in California in 2002.

Posted by Nancy at 08:44 PM | Comments (0)

Panel rules priest sex abuse suits filed late

Lawyer will appeal Schuylkill judges' dismissal of two cases against Allentown Diocese.
January 27, 2005 [The Morning Call] By Chris Parker

A panel of Schuylkill County judges has dismissed two child molestation lawsuits against the Allentown Catholic Diocese, saying the alleged victims waited too long to file their claims of priest sexual abuse.

Though the judges found the diocese's failure to protect its young parishioners ''shocking and irresponsible,'' they said the men's claim that they were harmed again in 2002 when they learned the diocese had transferred some abusive priests to other communities wasn't an issue.

The cases only concerned the statute of limitations, the judges said.

A lawyer for the two men plans to appeal the ruling to the state Superior Court, which has scheduled a Feb. 16 hearing to determine the course of similar suits across Pennsylvania.

Superior Court rebuffed the diocese last fall, refusing to hear arguments that Lehigh County lawsuits alleging sexual abuse shouldn't be allowed to proceed because the statute of limitations for filing them had expired.

The panel of six Schuylkill judges, without dissension, ruled in identical 22-page opinions Tuesday that Vincent Catizone Jr. of Girardville and Scott Greis of Schuylkill County waited too long — more than 20 years — to file their suits.

Their attorney, Jay N. Abramowitch of Wyomissing, near Reading, and colleague Richard Serbin of Altoona sued the diocese and Bishop Edward P. Cullen and retired Bishop Thomas J. Welsh because the two-year statute of limitations against individual priests had passed.

The Schuylkill cases involve the Rev. Francis J. McNelis, who retired in 2002 and is living in Holy Family Villa in Bethlehem, and the late Monsignor William E. Jones, a former pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Church, Minersville.

''We are disappointed in the finding,'' Abramowitch said.

Greis and Catizone couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday.

Diocese attorney Joseph F. Leeson Jr. of Bethlehem, noting that none of the judges dissented, called their opinions ''strong and emphatic. … I think they are scholarly and well-reasoned opinions that are based on the law.''

Each of the two suits, filed in January 2004, consists of 12 counts and seeks monetary awards of more than $50,000 for each count.

The Schuylkill panel agreed with the diocese that the two-year deadline to file a civil lawsuit seeking money for injuries had elapsed. The alleged incidents began in 1966 for Greis, then 10, and in 1978 for Catizone, then 14.

The panel ruled that the statute ''has been consistently applied to other cases in Pennsylvania'' and dismissed the claims.

Catizone and Greis also alleged in their suits that the diocese and bishops had a duty to report the abuse, according to 1994 legislation that requires clergy to report sexual abuse.

The panel ruled that the law could not be applied retroactively.

''At the time of the events at issue, members of the clergy were not responsible under the [law] to report suspicions of child abuse,'' the panel ruled.

When the Schuylkill judges heard arguments in October, Abramowitch said his clients didn't discover until 2002, through the media, that the diocese had harmed them by hiding incidents of sexual abuse, and that is when the two-year period started.

Leeson said the fact a wrongdoing was publicly disclosed has no legal bearing on incidents that happened many years ago.

The suits also alleged that Greis and Catizone were harmed again in April 2002, ''when the Catholic Church revealed it had a policy of relocating sexually abusive priests to other communities, and that the church chose not to report these incidents to the police because, at the time, the law did not require it.''

The transfer of priests known to have molested children was not an issue in Greis' and Catizone's cases, the judges said, ''however shocking and irresponsible we may consider the diocese's failure to protect its child parishioners.''

Serving on the Schuylkill panel were President Judge William Baldwin and Judges Jacqueline Russell, E. Michael Stine, Cyrus Palmer Dolbin, John Domalakes and Charles M. Miller.

Catizone, who was 10 in 1966 when McNelis allegedly began to abuse him, was an altar boy and parishioner at St. Joseph's in Girardville, according to his suit.

The suit says McNelis performed sex acts on Catizone in his bedroom, his car, the rectory garage and other rooms in the rectory, and that the abuse continued for two to three years until Catizone was 13.

Greis alleges Jones fondled him and performed oral sex on him on numerous occasions beginning in 1978. Once, the suit says, Jones and another priest performed oral sex on Greis and several other boys on a trip to Jones' home in Tower City. Jones died in May.

Six similar cases, also filed by Abramowitch and Serbin, are pending in Lehigh County Court. Last June, three Lehigh judges declined to dismiss the suits.

In November, Superior Court chose not to hear the diocese's arguments that the Lehigh County lawsuits shouldn't be allowed to proceed. The court rejected the diocese's appeal of that decision, Leeson said.

At the hearing next month, Superior Court will consider appeals in similar cases stemming from a Philadelphia case, Abramowitch said.

''That ruling would be binding on cases in all the counties,'' he said.

In Philadelphia, a county judge threw out priest sexual abuse suits filed against the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, saying the statute of limitations had expired.

Posted by Nancy at 08:39 PM | Comments (0)

Three insurance firms sue LA Catholic bishop over child sex abuse deals

January 27, 2005 [Agence France Presse]

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Three insurance firms have sued the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, accusing its leader of refusing to share information about alleged priestly sex abuse, a report said.

The companies have asked a judge to order Cardinal Roger Mahony to provide documents that could be used to relieve them of liability stemming from allegations by more than 535 people since the 1930s, according to the Los Angeles Times.

"For whatever reasons, the archbishop's apparent goal is to obviate any meaningful disclosure of the facts and circumstances of these claims, and yet to pressure (the insurers) to contribute enormous sums of money" to settle the cases, according to the lawsuit.

The 12-page complaint was filed by three members of American International Group Inc.: Insurance Co. of the State of Pennsylvania, Granite State Insurance Co. and American Home Assurance Co.

The three companies provided coverage for the church in the 1970s.

More than one billion dollars in damages could be assessed against the church, the insurance companies stated in the lawsuit, according to the Times.

"They have full access to the files," responded Mahony's lead lawyer, J. Michael Hennigan, according to the Times. "They are supposed to be on our side."

US Roman Catholic dioceses have seen their finances hit hard by waves of sexual abuse lawsuits filed against them since the child sex scandal broke in Boston, Massachusetts, in early 2002.

Three dioceses -- Spokane in Washington state, Portland in Oregon and Tucson in Arizona -- have filed for bankruptcy, while the Los Angeles area Diocese of Orange in December struck a record 100-million-dollar settlement deal with 87 alleged victims of its priests.

Posted by Nancy at 08:30 PM | Comments (0)

January 26, 2005

Bill Would Require Religious Leaders Report Child Abuse

January 26, 2005 [Associated Press]

Religious leaders would have to report suspected child abuse under a bill that was reintroduced Wednesday.

The legislation passed the Senate last year but died in a House committee after fundamentalist religious groups argued that it established a church and state relationship.

"We had some evangelical ministers who felt they had a separation of church and state issue, and some that had told me that they preach from the pulpit that parents should reprimand and punish their children and they didn't want to come back the following week and report them for child abuse," said Sen. Robert Spada, a northern Ohio Republican who proposed the bill.

The bill, which is essentially unchanged from last year, would not apply to the "sacred trust" of a confession or to something said confidentially to a minister.

Other religious groups, including Roman Catholics and Methodists, supported the bill last year. Doctors, teachers and other professionals are required to report abuse.

Posted by Nancy at 12:58 PM | Comments (0)

New centres to help abuse victims

January 26, 2005 [East Anglican Daily Times]
By Dave Gooderham

VULNERABLE victims of child abuse and domestic violence are set to receive vital support and information from a new specialist care centre.

Offering help to victims and witnesses of crime, the Victim Care Centre in Bury St Edmunds was launched yesterday and will be swiftly followed by similar units in Lowestoft and Ipswich costing almost £2 million.

Police said the centres would further improve the service offered to victims with specialist officers and staff on hand to help those who have suffered domestic violence or sex attacks.

Pc Rebecca Stocking, victim care officer, said: “Domestic violence blights so many lives and I hope that my work helps some victims recover from its effects and take positive steps forward.

“Every case is different - and you never get used to dealing with the effects of domestic violence and seeing how it saps victims' self-esteem.

“Our aim is to put victims in a position where they can make positive life choices for themselves and the greatest satisfaction comes from seeing these people get their lives back on track.”

The centre features three fully-equipped video interview rooms, a medical examination suite and a conference room.

Detective Constable Chris Murton, child protection team officer, who will investigate and support victims of child abuse, said: “In this job, we deal with extremely sensitive cases and you need to be both diplomatic and open-minded at all times.

“The crucial thing is establishing a rapport with the child. This may not be easy as they can be downtrodden and suppressed because of their experiences - and extremely wary of adults.

“It is a challenging job, but extremely rewarding to be part of a team which helps these children escape from those who abuse them.”

The centre, part funded by a £500,000 Home Office grant, will run in conjunction with Suffolk Victim Support.

Area manager John Doylend said: “It's an extremely positive step forward and can only help provide a better service to victims and witnesses.

“Our work complements that of the police and I am very pleased that Suffolk Constabulary is placing a greater emphasis on care and support for those affected by crime.”

Detective Superintendent Stewart Gull, of Suffolk police, said they were committed to taking a lead in providing a quality service to all victims of crime.

“The new centres will provide 24-hour specialist support and care for the most vulnerable in our communities.

“Our new centres will provide immediate specialist help and support to those who need it, helping them recover from their ordeal, while at the same time assisting police in tracing those responsible for their suffering.”

Posted by Nancy at 02:05 AM | Comments (0)

Documentary: "After School"

Documentary film: A study of the growing and disturbing trend of teachers having sex with their students.

Months after the tragedy, Owen Lafave, her husband of less than one year, wants answers. He has teamed up with a documentary crew to narrate and explore the truth and reasons behind the rise in cases of child molestation by teachers in our schools.

“After School” is a disturbing look at a plague affecting our families and, more importantly, our children.

For more information visit: After School

Posted by Nancy at 12:50 AM | Comments (0)

January 25, 2005

Minister arrested, charged with child molestation

January 25, 2005 [Associated Press]

LAWRENCEVILLE, GA (AP) -- Gwinnett County police have charged a 57-year-old minister with child molestation.

Nathan Clement Ridgeway of Duluth is charged with one count of aggravated sexual battery and one count of aggravated child molestation.

The investigation involves a three-year-old family member who was at the suspect's residence.

Ridgeway is a pastor of a non-denominational church in Norcross -- Faith Life Fellowship. He also runs and works at a day care center, which operates out of that church.

Investigations say there are NO allegations of abuse involving anyone from the church or day care center.

Authorities arrested Ridgeway on Friday.

Posted by Nancy at 11:43 AM | Comments (0)

School 'mismanaged' abuse probe

A government report into allegations of sexual abuse against young boys at a Belfast boarding school is highly critical of the school's response.
January 25, 2005 [BBC News]

The report, published by the Department of Education on Tuesday, catalogued a history of mismanagement.

The abuse took place in 1992 and 1993 and was carried out by one pupil at Cabin Hill preparatory boarding school.

The report said a lack of action may have harmed both the boys abused and the young abuser.

The fee-paying preparatory school on the Newtownards Road in east Belfast closed its boarding department in October 2004.

Education Minister Barry Gardiner said: "The report does not make comfortable reading and provides all who have a duty to safeguard and promote children's welfare with much to reflect on."

The inquiry team, appointed by the Department of Education last September, found there were multiple instances of serious sexual abuse affecting at least six boys.

It found that one boy, who was acting as a dormitory prefect, carried out indecent assaults on fellow pupils until he was forced by other boys to confess to the headmaster at the time.

The boy said to have carried out the abuse was formally cautioned by the police in 2002.

However, it was the school's handling of the matter which has been criticised by the report's authors.

Response 'inadequate'

Only a very few people were told about it, in what the report team called an inadequate response.

It said that not only should the assaulted boys have been given help, but also the perpetrator, who left the school soon after the discovery of his actions.

The incidents were not made public until May 1999.

The board of governors of Campbell College, which runs the Cabin Hill preparatory school, has acknowledged the criticism of its handling of the incidents of sexual abuse.

It said it regretted the distress of pupils which had come to light as a result of this inquiry.

However, the report said that even as late as last year, a board of governors' response to press enquiries was said to be erroneous and misleading.

The three-strong team appointed last September to examine the allegations were the former Senior Chief Inspector of Education in Scotland, Douglas Osler, the former director of the NSPCC in Northern Ireland, Lynne Peyton, and the former principal of Dalriada School, Ballymena, William Calvert.

The team looked at what child protection measures were in place at the time and the extent of the abuse.

The inquiry was held in private.

Posted by Nancy at 11:34 AM | Comments (0)

Prosecutors detail abuse of young boy by defrocked priest

January 25, 2005 [Associated Press]

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. "If you tell, no one will believe you."

Prosecutors say that's what a former priest told his young victim to keep him quiet during years of sexual abuse. Opening statements began today in Massachusetts in the trial of Paul Shanley, charged with rape and indecent assault on a child.

Prosecutors say the boy didn't tell anyone -- for nearly 20 years. They say Shanley raped the boy repeatedly at his church, sometimes in the church bathroom, or in the church confessional.

They described how the priest would summon the six-year-old boy to the rectory to play cards. Then they quote Shanley as saying, "You lose, take off your clothes."

Shanley's defense maintains such charges have been concocted in order to bring a lawsuit.

If convicted of rape and other charges, Shanley -- who turns 74 years old today -- could face life in prison.

Posted by Nancy at 11:26 AM | Comments (0)

Coalition pledges mandatory abuse reports

January 25, 2005 [Sunday Times] By Amanda Banks

Australia - DOCTORS, nurses, teachers and child welfare workers will be forced to report child abuse under a Coalition plan to bring Western Australia into line with the rest of the nation on mandatory reporting.

Opposition Leader Colin Barnett yesterday unveiled details of the plan, announced by the Liberal Party in June.

The mandatory reporting plan, estimated to cost $15 million a year, is part of the Coalition's first comprehensive policy launch.

The children's policy - which contains initiatives worth $83.5 million - also includes establishing an Office for the Commissioner for Children at a cost of $5 million a year; a $1 million commitment to match local community funding to improve playgrounds; $1.5 million to set up a children's card to provide police clearance for people who work with children; stricter classifications guidelines for children's media; and $750,000 for child injury prevention.

Flanked by Opposition spokeswoman for children Barbara Scott, Mr Barnett said professionals would be trained to ensure they could identify child abuse.

"WA is the only state in this country that does not require mandatory reporting of abuse against children," he said. "It's not about a penalty system, it's just creating a clear statutory obligation on professionals in the area. Let's face it, this is about protecting kids."

Mr Barnett did not give details about the penalties for those who breached the statutory obligation to report suspected abuse or neglect.

The Gallop Government has previously rejected mandatory reporting after a report by the University of Western Australia found such laws throughout the world were in chaos and said there was no evidence compulsory reporting was effective in protecting children.

Posted by Nancy at 11:23 AM | Comments (0)

Opening Statements Delivered Clergy Sex Abuse Trial

Defrocked Priest Charged With Child Rape
January 25, 2005 [Associated Press]

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Opening statements were to be delivered Tuesday in the child rape case against defrocked priest Paul Shanley, one of the most notorious figures in the clergy sex abuse scandal that engulfed the Boston Archdiocese.

The case that first involved allegations related to four alleged victims has since been whittled down to a single man who claims he was raped in the 1980s by Shanley when he was a priest at St. Jean's parish in Newton.

A jury of eight men and eight women will consider the case, which is expected to last about two weeks in Middlesex Superior Court.

Shanley faces three charges of raping a child and two charges of indecent assault and battery on a child. The maximum sentence would be life in prison.

Prosecutors said they planned to call New Hampshire bishop John McCormack to the stand Tuesday as one of their first witnesses. McCormack investigated allegations of sexual misconduct as a former lieutenant to Boston's Cardinal Bernard Law and was expected to testify about Shanley's employment history with the archdiocese.

Shanley was once known as a long-haired priest in blue jeans who reached out to Boston's troubled youth in the late '60s. Now 73, he was defrocked by the Vatican last year after being charged with sexually abusing boys at the Newton parish between 1979 and 1989.

His alleged victims contend they were taken out of religious education classes and raped by Shanley in the church rectory, confessional and restroom.

The remaining accuser is 27 and says he was sexually abused by Shanley between 1983 and 1989, when he was between the ages of 6 and 11. Prosecutors said they plan to call the man's father and wife to testify.

Shanley's is one of just a handful of criminal cases that prosecutors have been able to bring to trial against priests accused of molesting young parishioners decades ago.

Most of the priests accused in hundreds of civil lawsuits avoided criminal prosecution because the alleged crimes were committed so long ago that charges were barred by the statute of limitations. But because Shanley moved out of Massachusetts, the clock stopped. He was arrested in California in May 2002.

Shanley became a lightning rod for public anger over the clergy sex abuse scandal after internal church documents were released showing church officials knew that he advocated sex between men and boys, yet they continued to transfer him from parish to parish.

His lawyer, Frank Mondano, has said he will argue that the man made up his story of abuse after the scandal erupted into the headlines several years ago. All of Shanley's alleged victims settled lawsuits with the church in April 2004. The exact monetary terms were not disclosed, but an attorney for the men has said each received more than $300,000.

Posted by Nancy at 11:19 AM | Comments (0)

Vatican Disciplines 17 Priests in N.Y.

January 24, 2005 [Associated Press]

ROCKVILLE CENTRE, N.Y. - The Roman Catholic Church has disciplined 17 priests of a New York diocese for sexual abuse allegations.

The Diocese of Rockville Centre on Long Island informed parishioners of the actions in a three-page letter listing the status of sex abuse cases against 23 priests.

Bishop William F. Murphy reported that eight priests were defrocked by the Vatican, nine were permanently suspended, three await canonical trials and two have been cleared. Proceedings against another have been deferred.

Several victims' rights groups criticized the bishop, saying the identities of the disciplined priests should be made public.

Diocese spokesman Sean Dolan said the names of those priests convicted on criminal charges have been disclosed. But releasing the names of the suspended priests could violate their privacy because they have not been proven guilty.

Posted by Nancy at 11:10 AM | Comments (0)

Crackdown on Net child abuse

January 25, 2005

AUSTRALIA has teamed up with the US, Canada and the UK to cast an international net to crack down on child abuse on the Internet.

Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty will launch the global program to fight child abuse and pornography online on Thursday.

Mr Keelty will join the director of the Australian High Tech Crime Centre, Kevin Zuccato, to unveil the virtual global task force website, a key element in the global program to stop child abuse.

A worldwide child pornography blitz late last year dubbed Operation Auxin identified more than 700 suspects in Australia and led to 228 arrests and 2260 charges.

Posted by Nancy at 03:10 AM | Comments (0)

Ad campaign to promote Internet tipline aimed at sexual abuse of children

January 24, 2005 [Canadian Press] By John Ward

OTTAWA (CP) - A tipline described as Neighbourhood Watch on the Internet launched a national ad campaign Monday to enlist Canadians in the fight against on-line stalkers and child porn.

It comes two years after the federal Liberals promised a national strategy to fight sexual exploitation of children in cyberspace. Cybertip.ca has been running as a Manitoba-based pilot project for two years, but now will be promoted nationally. The site allows people to report suspicious Web sites, chat rooms and the like to a central clearinghouse. The reports are analyzed and those that look like solid leads are passed on to the appropriate police agency.

In its two years of operation, the site has received 2,000 reports which resulted in the closing of more than 400 Web sites and 10 arrests.

In one case, a mother in Kingston, Ont., found that her 14-year-old daughter had met a 35-year-old man on line. She found evidence that the man had sent child porn to the girl's computer.

She reported to Cybertip.ca and Kingston police were notified.

They determined that the man in question was in the United States and informed the FBI (news - web sites), which found he had molested other girls in the U.S. He faces four charges and 30 years in jail.

Manitoba Attorney General Gord Mackintosh, one of the driving forces behind the concept, said the Internet can be both a wonderful tool and a dangerous place.

"We all must reduce the risk," he said.

He warned that those who try to exploit kids on the Net are going to have a harder time of it now.

"I say to predators, beware, you are now going to be increasingly watched and reported," he said.

The site is financed by $3.5 million from the federal government and donations from corporations such as Bell Canada, Telus, Microsoft, Rogers, Shaw and AOL.

Federal Justice Minister Irwin Cotler said the technology has shown it can work.

"This will have a significant impact," he said. "It's about protection of the most vulnerable of the vulnerable, our children."

The site is user friendly, with pull-down menus to help users fill out their reports. It's aimed as child porn, child luring, child prostitution and sex tourism.

Lianna McDonald, executive director of Child Find Manitoba, which ran the pilot project, said Cybertip can provide vital information to the police. By acting as a central clearinghouse for reports, it can sort out the chaff, and send information to the police who have jurisdiction.

Police faced with a report may investigate, only to find that the Web site or the person involved is in another jurisdiction. Cybertip can eliminate that duplication of effort, McDonald said.

"No one agency, government or company can take this issue on alone," she said.

McDonald said the process will enlist Canadians directly in the fight against sexual exploitation of children.

"Cybertips.ca is the Neighbourhood Watch of the Internet," she said.

Posted by Nancy at 01:55 AM | Comments (0)

Judge Sets Bond For Former Fugitive Accused Of Molesting Child

Police Arrest Daniel Farinholt After Nearly 3-Year Search
January 24, 2005

LOS ANGELES -- A judge Monday set bond at $500,000 for the man accused of molesting a child and hiding from authorities for nearly three years.

Daniel Farinholt remains in Orange County Jail. He pleaded not guilty Monday to charges of child molestation and sexual abuse.

Farinholt, formerly an executive vice president of a large computer company in El Segundo, was taken into custody in Boise, where he was working for Hewlett-Packard.

Farinholt, who had reportedly been using the name Donald Dudley, was identified after being featured on the television series "America's Most Wanted." The tipster reportedly remained anonymous.

Farinholt was arrested on a $200,000 warrant stemming from a criminal case filed in March 2002, alleging three counts of child molestation and one felony count of continual sexual abuse of a girl under 13. The alleged child abuse occurred in Lake Forest, where Farinholt lived with a wife and children.

Farinholt made a preliminary court appearance on April 15 of that year and was granted a bond reduction to $100,000. He then failed to show up for a May 23, 2002, court appearance.

The following day, he made "a weak attempt" to stage his own death by abandoning his 1997 BMW at an El Segundo beach and smearing his blood on his boat, "Reel'n and Rock'n," which was about 100 yards offshore, police said. Farinholt had reportedly hoped to get investigators to believe he had either committed suicide or been the victim of a homicide, but it was too small an amount of blood to be believable, police said

Authorities had since tracked Farinholt to Texas and Colorado, among other places.

Farinholt is scheduled to return to court Feb. 4 for a pre-trial hearing.

Posted by Nancy at 01:50 AM | Comments (0)

Shanley trial underscores complexities

The priest has had many accusers, but now only one whose case is in court - complicating a high-profile drama.
January 24, 2005

BOSTON – Opening statements in the trial of Paul Shanley are set to begin Monday - advancing an epic in which a popular long-haired priest of the 1960s has become one of the biggest pariahs in today's clergy sexual-abuse scandal.

Defrocked by the Vatican last year, Mr. Shanley is one of few clergy accused of molestation to actually face prosecution. He is charged with child rape and indecent assault and battery while a priest at a nearby Newton parish in the 1980s. If convicted, he could face life in prison.

Yet despite his notoriety among victims' advocates - child-abuse accusations date back to at least 1967 - a conviction is far from certain. Though four men originally accused him of molestation, prosecutors dropped two of them from the case in July, and a third was dropped last week after failing to appear for scheduled meetings. Now, the trial is based on the allegations of a lone accuser.

That could weaken the case against Shanley, say experts. It also underscores the challenges and complexities surrounding the prosecution of child abuse, especially when trials take place decades after the alleged crimes. At worst, say some, the way this case has played out - especially if Shanley is acquitted - could deter future victims from stepping forward.

"[The sole accuser] is all alone. That's got to feel rough," says Gary Schoener, a clinical psychologist in Minneapolis and an expert on the clergy sex-abuse scandal. "I guarantee if he knew he'd be alone in the beginning ... he wouldn't be here. There's got to be some anger and resentment connected to that."

To victims' advocates, Shanley is infamous for his cunning and malice. They say he preyed on young victims repeatedly. And according to church documents released after the scandal broke in 2002, he was transferred from parish to parish over several decades.

"Shanley is both a symbol, and a real threat," says David Clohessy, the executive director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP).

Accusations and hurdles in court

To begin with, the case in the Middlesex Superior Court in Cambridge, Mass., revolved around the allegations of four men who had taken religious education classes at St. Jean the Evangelist Parish in Newton. They claimed that Shanley raped them in the rectory, the confessional, and the restroom from 1979 to 1989, according to the district attorney's office.

The last accuser to remain in the case and testify - known in court as Male No. 3 - alleges that Shanley raped and assaulted him from the time he was 6 years old until he was 11.

Most of the clergy who have faced civil suits from accusers have eluded prosecution - because the statutes of limitations have often run out. Shanley's case is an exception: Because he left Massachusetts with its 15-year statute of limitations in 1990, the "clock stopped." He was arrested in San Diego in 2002. He later pleaded not guilty and was held on bail.

Those seeking accountability in the Catholic Church abuse scandal face other hurdles beyond statutes of limitations. Testimony in such cases has often been based on recovered memory - an intensifying sense of past trauma, dawning on a victim years after supposed abuse - which can be controversial in court for juries and defense attorneys alike.

In the current case, Male No. 3, now in his 20s, says he recalled the abuse after the scandal broke in the Archdiocese of Boston three years ago.

"I have a great difficulty accepting recovered memory," says Joseph Oteri, a Boston-area defense attorney who is not involved in the case. "A lot of [memory] is stories people hear over the years. They hear stories and pretty soon think it happened to them."

Schoener says that juries, too, are often sympathetic to offenders in old cases "to the degree that anything is fuzzy."

The case's fallout for other victims

Many of Shanley's accusers have received financial settlements from the Boston Catholic Archdiocese. Some experts say an acquittal in the criminal case could prompt more victims to come forward, angering them enough to make their cases public, even if they had previously decided not to do so.

But Clohessy says the reverse is also true: If a conviction isn't a sure thing for a priest considered by many to be one of the worst villains, they may ask, how will lesser-known figures be held accountable?

"Whenever a dangerous predator escapes prosecution it makes already very pessimistic and hopeless victims feel worse," says Clohessy. "But that's even more true in a case like Shanley's where there are multiple accusers, and most importantly, a clear, lengthy, incriminating set of written records proving that church leaders knew he was dangerous."

For David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, Shanley's behavior should have sent warning signals to the church.

"He's emblematic of the fact that the church did not take the actions it should have taken," says Dr. Finkelhor. Shanley was known for blurring the boundaries between adults and children and has been accused of publicly advocating sex between men and boys. "Maybe that means the failure to pick up on what was going on was more egregious."

Posted by Nancy at 12:16 AM | Comments (0)

January 24, 2005

Sheriff: Worst Case of Child Abuse Ever

January 24, 2005

Knox County, TN - Yet another child abuse case in Knox County, as Sheriff Tim Hutchison put it, it's one of the worst cases of alleged child abuse he's seen.

Four children are in protective custody, with two of them hospitalized, the mother and boyfriend are in jail.

As Volunteer TV’s Ron Sprowl reports, the children, ages five, four, three and one all suffered abuse. The three year old girl and the one year old boy remain hospitalized.

23-year-old Stephanie Jo Allen and her live-in boyfriend 20-year-old Phillip Cory Reep were taken into custody Sunday night at their Ripon Circle residence.

Authorities went to their home to look for Reep after the children's grandmother called deputies concerning the welfare of her grandchildren.

Authorities say Allen first told them he was not there, that's when police say they saw the conditions of the children.

"The three-year-old girl was severely burned parts of the lower parts of her body. She had bruises and knots all over the head. The one-year-old, as well, knots and bruising over the body and head," said Knox County Sheriff Tim Hutchison. "The five-year-old, the four-year-old, three-year-old all told us that it was momma's boyfriend Cory that did those things to them."

Deputies did find Reep inside the house hiding in a bathroom near the bedroom.

Sheriff Hutchison also says the mother told detectives she knew nothing about the abuse, didn't know it was happening and really wasn't that concerned.

She's jailed on a $700,700 bond; boyfriend Reep's bond is $1.2 million

Posted by Nancy at 09:51 PM | Comments (0)

Help to prevent child abuse

It's time to find that special costume and get ready for a Mardi Gras.

Prevent Child Abuse Porter County will hold its sixth annual costume ball "Mardi Gras Style" form 8 to midnight March 5 at the Strongbow Banquet Center. Hosted by Steve Zana of Indiana 105, music will be provided by The Relics. Light cajun style refreshments will be served.

During the event a silent auction will again be held with many articles available for purchase to the highest bidder. Tickets for the event are $40 for singles and $75 for couples. All proceeds will go to child abuse education and prevention programs.

During the annual event Prevent Child Abuse Porter County will recognize an individual who has demonstrated concern and care for children and youth of Porter County. The Third Annual Hero for Children Award will be presented to the winning nominee at the Prevent Child Abuse Porter County Mardi Gras fund-raiser. Nominations will be accepted from any organization or individual in Porter County.

Please consider the following criteria when submitting a nominee: This individual has devoted selfless time to improving the lives of children beyond family or workplace responsibilities. This individual demonstrates creativity and a willingness to respond to the needs of children. This individual may serve in areas that are less attractive to others but are invaluable to a child's learning or support system. This individual is an inspiration and role model to children. All entries should be submitted in writing and be no more than 500 words. Entries can be sent either by mail, email or fax to Prevent Child Abuse Porter County c/o Sandra Mannakee, 1705 Snead Ave., Chesterton, IN 46304 or call (219) 921-1746. Nominations must be received by Feb. 1. The award committee will make the final decision. The person or agency submitting the winning entry will be notified and invited to the fund-raiser. For information, call Mannakee at (219) 921-1630 or LuAnn Shirley at 531-9012

Posted by Nancy at 09:47 PM | Comments (0)

Fixing child abuse takes all

Letter January 2005

The staff, board of directors and volunteers at Child Advocates Inc. have firsthand knowledge of the burden that the Child Protective Services caseworkers are facing.

Many of our program staff members served as CPS caseworkers prior to joining our organization, and our volunteers work with CPS caseworkers daily.

We all know that the majority of these individuals care about the well-being of the children and work tirelessly to ensure that the right decisions are made in every case.

We also recognize the barriers and limitations they face — including the financial cuts that have been made to parts of Texas' child welfare system that have exacerbated an already struggling system.

While we agree that the Legislature has the responsibility of fixing the struggling agency, we also believe it is the entire community's responsibility to take care of the more than 4,200 abused and neglected children who are in foster care right now in the Houston area. Behind every one of the statistics is an innocent child in need of help.

Child Advocates mobilizes community volunteers to provide a voice for the voiceless — those abused and neglected children who are in protective custody. We recruit, train and supervise court appointed special advocates (also known as guardians ad litem), to help guide children through the system.

Our volunteers provide a safety net below the CPS system to make sure that all of the children's needs are met and that a safe, permanent outcome is reached.

Since our volunteers carry only one or two cases at a time, they have the time necessary to fill in the gaps in the system.

Our volunteers remain on a child's case from the time that it is opened in the family court until the child's final placement is resolved.

The volunteer provides continuity on the child's case by pulling together the case history from each caseworker that has ever been involved, interviewing all parties involved in the child's life, and attending all court hearings so that an informed recommendation to the court can be made regarding the best permanent placement for the child.

Since we have a legal responsibility to the court to make unbiased recommendations, we may not always agree with CPS. However, we are confident that we are all working with the child's best interest in mind.

Despite all of our best intentions, children do slip through the bureaucratic cracks and, as we have seen, the results are tragic when they do.

As a community we have witnessed too many of these tragedies over the past 2 1/2 years, and we each need to do our part to help these children.

Their needs are great, but every Houstonian can do something to help. At a time when the system seems hopelessly flawed and tragic stories of abuse surface in the news every few days, Child Advocates challenges more individuals to get involved. Look into the possibility of donating time or money to Child Advocates or to one of the many other groups in Houston who work to help abused children.

Please do not watch from the sidelines or wait for others to get involved. Our children need all of us to take our part.

chief executive officer, Child Advocates Inc., Houston

Posted by Nancy at 09:42 PM | Comments (0)

Money is Available for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect

January 24, 2005 [Montana News Association]

The board of directors of the Montana Children's Trust Fund is soliciting abstracts for grants aimed at preventing child abuse and neglect.

The deadline for submissions is February 13.

This year's grants are intended to promote services that foster positive family relationships and prevent abuse and neglect in at-risk families, according to Sara Lipscomb, executive officer for the Montana Council for Families.

Examples would include innovative community-based projects with a specific focus (such as parent education, parent support groups, or parenting skills for young parents) and family resource centers. The trust fund board is especially interested in plans that:

  • target traditionally underserved or disenfranchised populations and
    geographic areas of the state;
  • involve programs designed to meet the needs of people who may have difficulty
    accessing existing services;
  • involve programs that demonstrate both cultural sensitivity and cultural
    competence in program content and design;
  • involve programs that demonstrate interagency collaboration and commitment;

  • involve programs that use volunteers.

    Programs that propose to serve low-income communities, young or first-time parents, or parents with young children will be given priority, Lipscomb said.

    The trust fund board also hopes to fund the creation of as many as three family resource centers in communities that currently are not served by one.

    Grant applicants must be nonprofit, private or public, community-based or statewide educational and service organizations, groups, or agencies. The trust fund board will review the abstracts in late February and request full applications from those it deems most worthy.

    More information about preparing and submitting abstracts is available on the Children's Trust Fund Web site at www.dphhs.mt.gov. Click on About Us and then Boards and Councils.

    The Children's Trust Fund was created by the Legislature in 1985 to take the lead in reducing and ultimately eliminating maltreatment of Montana children. The fund provides financial support to local efforts across the state.

    Posted by Nancy at 09:37 PM | Comments (0)

    Care House gets grant

    January 24, 2005 [Macomb Daily]

    The SBC Foundation has awarded $5,850 in computer technology to Mount Clemens-based Care House, which assists child victims of physical and sexual abuse.

    The money will allow needy families served by the organization to have access to the Internet, math and reading programs, job skills programs, and receive computer training. Care House staffers also will gain improved technology, such as e-mail, to raise money, recruit volunteers and get training.

    The SBC Foundation is the philanthropic arm of SBC Communications Inc. Last year, the foundation awarded more than $8 million in the technology grants.

    Posted by Nancy at 09:30 PM | Comments (0)

    Jury selection to begin in multiple murder and sexual abuse case

    January 24, 2005 [Associated Press] By Juliana Barbassa

    FRESNO, Calif. - Attorneys will begin screening jurors Tuesday morning in the multiple murder trial of Marcus Wesson, a domineering patriarch who allegedly controlled his family with religious teachings, incest and threats of mass suicide.

    Wesson, 57, was the only one to emerge alive from the back bedroom of the modest one-story house at the end of a tense, hours-long standoff. Police discovered nine bodies in a bloody tangle and ten white coffins stacked against the living room walls.

    Each victim had been shot once in the eye - the youngest a 1-year-old toddler, the oldest a 25-year-old woman whose child was among the dead.

    The killings shocked even veteran officers in this Central Valley town, where police had been called by relatives desperate to get their children out of the house. Officers cried openly as they pulled body after body out of the bedroom, the youngest at the bottom of the pile.

    Wesson faces nine murder charges, and more than a dozen counts of sexual abuse against his own daughters and nieces. But no gunpowder residue was found on his hands. Prosecutors won't discuss their trial strategy, but their witnesses include several experts on mind control, indicating they may try to show Wesson ordered one of his children to commit the murders. Wesson could be put to death if convicted.

    Showing how Wesson controlled his household through ideology, surveillance and fear will be at the crux of the case, said Richard Ofshe, a sociologist and cult expert with the University of California, Berkeley.

    "If you want to take this seriously, you really have to learn how he ran this group," said Ofshe. The prosecution will have to show how he could get "nine people who didn't feel like dying to sit still."

    Earlier this month, 2,200 potential jurors were summoned to appear in Fresno County Superior Court. Hundreds are expected to answer the request on Tuesday, and after about a month of questioning, 12 will be chosen to hear the case.

    "I'll be looking for jurors who will refuse to lower the burden of proof in the face of enormous publicity and community sentiment," Wesson's public defender, Pete Jones, said on Friday.

    The preliminary hearing last April offered a glimpse of what the jurors will hear in the coming months.

    According to investigators' testimony, Wesson had strict control over his large household, which included several children bred through incest.

    One of Wesson's surviving daughters said he would inflict "weeklong spankings" if the children broke his rules, which for girls included dressing modestly and not talking to males outside the family.

    The 20-year-old said Wesson forced the family to hear him preach twice a day from his King James Bible, and that he began molesting her and her sisters when they were as young as five, Fresno homicide detective Carlos Leal testified.

    One of Wesson's nieces - a young woman he raised, then had a child with - told investigators the family patriarch had announced his plan to commit mass suicide if there was a threat against the clan, such as interventions by police or Child Protective Services.

    The niece also spoke of a more gruesome plan involving the girls, whom Wesson called "his soldiers." She said that when it came time to commit suicide, Wesson had intended for them to "go out and kill the rest of the family members that were no longer in his house," according to Richard Byrd, another Fresno detective.

    On March 12, the day of the killings, several family members had tried to retrieve their children from the Wesson household. The conflict escalated, and they called the police for help, crying hysterically and saying that Wesson was dangerous.

    Wesson's attorney has argued that the oldest victim - Wesson's daughter Sebhrenah - pulled the trigger, killing her siblings and her child before committing suicide. "Sebhrenah fell on the gun after shooting herself," Jones said during the preliminary hearing.

    Prosecutor Lisa Gamoian has not spoken to the press about the case, and was not available for comment before trial. But she said in court that the facts speak for themselves, that that Wesson is clearly culpable.

    "It was only Mr. Wesson who exited the bedroom," Gamoian said.

    Officer Byrd said that according to the niece, Wesson was obsessed with David Koresh, the leader of the Branch Davidian cult that got into a deadly 1993 confrontation with federal agents outside Waco, Texas. He apparently wanted to create a similar following within his own family, gathering relatives around the television to watch reports on the cult leader, Byrd said.

    Potential prosecution witnesses include family members and mental health specialists known for their work on other notorious murder cases, such as Park Dietz.

    Dietz testified in the trial of Jeffrey Dahmer, and concluded that David Berkowitz was sane in the "Son of Sam" case. But his work for Andrea Yates' prosecutors has recently been discredited, and the prosecution is reconsidering calling the specialist.

    The list also includes J. Reid Meloy, a forensic psychologist, and Kris Mohandie, who has worked for the Los Angeles Police Departments.

    Attorneys said jury selection is expected to take one month. No cameras will be allowed in the courtroom.

    Posted by Nancy at 09:26 PM | Comments (0)

    Public urged to report child abuse

    Be the eyes and ears of the Government, and report child abuse.
    January 25 2005 [News Straits Times] Malysia By June Ramli

    This is the plea from Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, in view of the rising incidence of child abuse and incest.

    "Please report if you suspect there are child abuse or incest cases," she told reporters after attending a dengue prevention and control campaign at the Tengku Budriah Children's Home in Cheras today.

    "We are doing our best, by having awareness programmes, changing the laws and bringing the perpetrators to court.

    "But most times, the horrible incidents have already taken place and an innocent victim is scarred for life."

    Shahrizat was commenting on news reports of 290 cases of child rape in the first three months of last year in which the perpetrators were relatives.

    In the whole of 2003 there were 768 such cases.

    She said in 2003, the ministry had received 430 reports of sexual abuse of those under 18 years of age involved in incest and sodomy.

    "It should be a personal crusade of every Malaysian to report such cases as we need the help of everyone. It has to be a concerted effort, not just one done by the ministry," she added.

    She said the young victims were under the close watch of the ministry.

    "Most times they are placed in homes because they are not safe living with their families anymore. We can only do so much. What we want to do now is to prevent such cases from happening. But we need the public's help. We cannot do it alone."

    Earlier, Shahrizat launched a campaign against Aedes mosquitoes and directed that all 123 old folk's homes and orphanages under her ministry be fogged and cleared of stagnant water through regular gotong-royong activities.

    "This will be a continuous effort, at least once a week."

    Posted by Nancy at 06:17 PM | Comments (0)

    Officer battles abuse in talks about touches

    In the classroom: PLAINFIELD - School sessions help kids learn what's OK, bad
    January 24, 2005 [Indianapolis Star] By Michael Dabney

    Terry Hall, a 28-year veteran of the Indianapolis Police Department, knows about child abuse, and he spends a lot of time trying to eliminate it.

    That's why Hall, an IPD dive commander, created a Good Touch/Bad Touch program in 1983.

    The police officer conducted lessons at Plainfield's Central and Brentwood elementary schools recently.

    Hall said he developed his program after seeing light sentences often handed down to people convicted of child molestation. "The judicial system wasn't working well," he said. "I had to do something."

    In addition to working in the department's dive unit, Hall is a trained child abuse investigator and trains other law enforcement officials in how to spot and pursue child abuse cases.

    But he gets a special joy in teaching children what is a good touch and what is a bad touch.

    "More than anything, it empowers kids to know what is good and what is bad, and that they have the right to say no," said Diana White, a counselor at Central.

    "We do this just to keep the kids safe," said Mike Underwood, Central's principal, regarding the 18 years Plainfield schools have received Hall's presentation.

    Hall uses dolls -- he calls them tools -- to show students where it is appropriate and where it is inappropriate to be touched. He said it is not always inappropriate for someone to touch "private parts," such as during a medical examination.

    "Private parts are not nasty," he told a gathering of attentive first- and second-graders. "What some people try to do with them is nasty."

    The students were amazingly familiar with the proper terms for certain parts of the human anatomy, although mentioning them could result in small giggles.

    Holding up a girl doll, Hall asked the children whether it is appropriate for someone to touch the breasts "for no good reason."

    "No," roared the children.

    "Is it ever your fault," he asked.

    "No," the children responded again.

    "Is it OK for someone to touch you for no good reason," asked Hall.

    Again, the children said, "No."

    "Most people who touch you for no good reason are generally people who you know. It's generally not a stranger," said Hall, who said he was the victim of abuse as a child.

    "Tell your mom and dad; tell your uncle or aunt; tell your teacher or principal or counselor," he said. "Keep telling someone until someone listens."

    Hall later said he tackles the problem because it is so massive.

    Nationally, one in four girls and one in eight boys under age 18 report some form of abuse, he said.

    "But it is also one of the most unreported crimes," Hall said.

    All children are vulnerable, said Underwood.

    Although she declined to be specific, White said children have approached school officials over the years to privately report cases of abuse.

    "He is tremendously effective," Underwood said.

    Posted by Nancy at 06:11 PM | Comments (0)

    Pebble Project teaches children safety

    January 23, 2005 [News 8]
    By Jennifer Bordelon

    Children are often taught not to talk to strangers, but what about when it's someone they know that's harming them?

    The Pebble Project is a program that helps prevent child abuse and neglect by empowering children to contribute to their own safety.

    Second graders at Reilly Elementary School learned about their rights, "to be safe, strong and free in various situations such as bullies, strangers and unwanted touches," Pebble Project volunteer Ana-Cristina Gonzales said.

    Through role play, volunteers teach these students how to recognize abusive or dangerous situations.

    "I think it's important especially now days with everything that's going on here lately in the news here in the Austin elementary schools about strangers coming in and trying to take kids way. I think it's important for them to be aware of what's going on," Gonzales said.

    The life lesson includes how to resist abuse, and the importance of telling a trusted adult if the child has been bullied, approached by a stranger or hurt by someone they know.

    "A lot of kids feel like they shouldn't tell on other kids because it's tattletaling and we want the kids to know that they do have rights and therefore it's really reporting something that's happening than just getting someone in trouble," Pebble Project volunteer Michael Hurewitz said.

    The program also encourages parents and teachers to talk to their children about safety and what is and is not appropriate in different situations.

    "The most valuable one is that they are able to identify people at school and at home who they feel safe with and who they can talk to," Gonzales said.

    For more information about volunteering with the Pebble Project or to schedule a presentation for your school, you can call them at (512) 464-9727. Read Pebble Project safety tips online.

    Posted by Nancy at 12:57 PM | Comments (0)

    Storm Delays Trial for Former Priest

    January 24, 2005 [Associated Press]

    BOSTON - The winter storm that pounded the Northeast prompted Gov. Mitt Romney to keep some nonessential state workers home Monday, including employees at the courthouse where a high-profile clergy sex abuse cases was to begin.

    Romney's announcement meant that opening statements in the trial of defrocked priest Paul Shanley, one of the highest-profile figures to go to trial in the Roman Catholic clergy sex abuse scandal, would not begin in Middlesex Superior Court until Tuesday. A jury was seated last week.

    Shanley, 73, is accused of child rape and indecent assault and battery on a child under 14. Allegations against him were among the hundreds of clergy sex abuse lawsuits settled by the Archdiocese of Boston.

    The alleged victim, now 27, says Shanley raped him repeatedly at St. Jean's parish in Newton between 1983 and 1989, beginning when he was six years old. Charges related to three of the alleged victims have been dropped by prosecutors.

    Shanley, once a long-haired priest in blue jeans who reached out to Boston's troubled youth, was defrocked by the Vatican last year after being charged with sexually abusing boys.

    Posted by Nancy at 12:50 PM | Comments (0)

    Man charged with sex abuse

    January 24, 2005 [Associated Press]

    Medford, OR — Numerous sex charges have been filed against a Southern Oregon man accused of abusing boys he met at motorcycle and motocross events, the authorities said.

    Daniel Zeman, 65, of Central Point has been charged with sodomy, sex abuse and encouraging child sexual abuse.

    Zeman was being held this weekend in the Jackson County Jail on more than $4 million bail.

    A dozen people have come forward to claim they were sexually abused by Zeman when they were between the ages of 9 and 16, Medford police Lt. Tim George said.

    Zeman, who has no previous felony record in Oregon, has been held in jail since Jan. 10, when he was arrested following a monthlong investigation.

    More charges were added Friday.

    Posted by Nancy at 12:46 PM | Comments (0)

    Caseworker not guilty of neglect

    Jury says she did obstruct death probe
    January 24, 2005 [Associated Press]

    INDIANAPOLIS – A jury Saturday found a former child welfare caseworker not guilty of neglect, but said she did obstruct an investigation into an abuse-related death of a 4-year-old boy she helped place with adoptive parents.

    Marion Superior Court jurors deliberated for more than eight hours before finding Denise C. Moore, 43, guilty of obstruction of justice, but not guilty of two counts of neglect. Her sentencing was scheduled for February 23

    The case had given people a behind-the-scenes look at the high number of cases and high turnover inside the state’s system for protecting abused and neglected children. Several caseworkers testified that they feel pressured to place children in adoptive homes and that they deal with too many cases.

    Defense attorney Jack Crawford said he was pleased that Moore had been acquitted of the most serious charges.

    Prosecutors claimed Moore lied about doing a background check on L.B. and Latricia Bars, the couple who adopted twins Anthony and Latoya Bars in 1999

    They argued that a proper check would have found three substantiated cases of abuse in the Barses’ home and shown that L.B. Bars was convicted in 1987 of felony battery for whipping his daughter with an extension cord.

    Beaten and starved, Anthony, 4, died in January 2002

    Latoya is mentally handicapped from the abuse. The Barses were convicted of child neglect with Latricia Bars sentenced to 13 years in prison, and L.B. Bars sentenced to eight years.

    “By the jury’s verdict, they found her not guilty of hurting those kids, which is what we claimed all along,” Crawford said.

    Crawford argued during this week’s trial that Moore had a caseload of more than 100 children in the Marion County Office of Family and Children, well above the limit of 35 ordered by a federal court. Crawford said during the trial that the responsibility of placing the children with the couple was not just Moore’s.

    If the proper background check were done, the information on L.B. Bars would have been enough to block the adoption, prosecutors said.

    Moore’s supervisor Mary Kettery testified Thursday that Moore’s work had deteriorated during the time the state placed the twins with the couple with an abusive past.

    Kettery said Moore carried an average caseload of about 39 children.

    When questioned by the defense, Kettery said that number could have climbed to more than 100 at times.

    Kettery testified that although she approved the twins adoption, it was Moore’s job to give her the appropriate background information.

    Posted by Nancy at 12:40 PM | Comments (0)

    Man and woman arrested for abusing her son

    January 24, 2004 [Associated Press]

    Council Bluffs, IA- Charges have been filed against a man and woman accused of abusing her three-year-old son.

    The woman, 24-year-old Courtny Anderson, was arrested last week on child endangerment, willful injury and neglect or abuse of a dependent person.

    Her boyfriend, 32-year-old Scott Davis, has been charged with willful injury and child endangerment.

    Police says Davis allegedly hog tied the boy with electrical tape and placed a rag in his mouth to quiet his crying. Anderson shut the lights in the boy's room, closed the door and left him there for at least 20 minutes.

    Police say doctors discovered the boy had been whipped on his legs and back, his left eye was swollen shut and he had burns on the left side of his face.

    The child has been placed in protective custody.

    Posted by Nancy at 12:35 PM | Comments (0)

    Child Advocacy Center receives $4,000 gift

    January 24, 2005 [The Buffalo News]

    NIAGARA FALLS - The Martha H. Beeman Foundation has designated a $4,000 gift to the Child Advocacy Center of Niagara at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center to support the new Martha H. Beeman Child Advocacy Training Institute.

    The institute will promote state-of-the-art training for the investigation and intervention of cases of child abuse by hosting an ongoing series of educational events for professionals who respond to such cases.

    "We are pleased to be able to help one of the few facilities of its kind in all of New York State," Don Smith, president of the Beeman Foundation's board of directors, said in a prepared statement.

    The institute's first training session will be held Tuesday, when Dr. Eileen Treacy, a New York City psychologist, presents "Forensic Interviewing Practices for Children."

    The Child Advocacy Center responds to reports of physical and sexual child abuse through the combined efforts of law enforcement, medical, behavioral health and social services professionals.

    The Martha H. Beeman Foundation and Beeman clinics were established in 1930 through Martha and Marcus Beeman, who donated $500,000 to the City of Niagara Falls "for whatever purpose best served the needs of those Niagara County residents too young to have made their own mistakes."

    Posted by Nancy at 12:25 PM | Comments (0)

    Teacher jailed over children porn

    A former primary school teacher has been jailed for nine months after child pornography was found on his computer.
    January 24, 2005 [BBC News]

    Daniel Kinge, of Eaton Close, Leamington Spa, admitted nine counts of making indecent images of children and one of having indecent photographs.

    Sentencing the 23-year-old at Warwick Crown Court, the judge told Kinge his offences were so serious he had no option but to send him to prison

    He was specially commended in teacher training awards in 2004.

    'Repulsive material'

    Kinge, who taught religious education, was placed on the sex offenders' register for 10 years and prevented from working with children indefinitely.

    Judge James Pyke told him: "You...must understand that those who provide or stimulate a market for this repulsive type of material, must bear their full share of responsibility for the abuse and degradation suffered by the children who were depicted in these images."

    Warwickshire Police became aware of Kinge as part of their investigations into paedophile activity in Leamington.

    But he was caught when the FBI arrested a man in Wisconsin as part of another investigation.

    Kinge was arrested at Wellesbourne Church of England Primary School, Warwickshire, on 18 November 2004.

    Two computers were found to have more than 110 indecent images on them.

    Neil Bannister QC, prosecuting, said the 'evidence eliminator' on his computer was set at the highest level.

    Award winner

    Education department officials in Warwickshire said that Kinge had been dismissed from his school post.

    They added that both the Department for Education and Skills and the General Teaching Council would be informed.

    The school's head teacher, Graeme Burgess, who nominated Kinge for the outstanding teacher award, said he had "fully deserved" the nomination.

    He added: "The children adored him. He only ever seemed to be interested in education and driving forward standards and caring.

    "To find out something like this could be taking place is awful. I think everybody involved feels extremely let down and abused in their own way."

    An order was also made preventing Kinge from having any access to a computer linked to the internet.

    Posted by Nancy at 12:20 PM | Comments (0)

    New court date set in child abuse case

    Jan 23, 2005 [Herald Sun]
    By John Stevenson

    DURHAM -- A new court date has been set for what some officials have described as one of the worst nonfatal child-abuse cases in Durham history.

    The case had been set for Durham County Superior Court last week. But it was postponed until Feb. 21, reportedly so two of three suspects could talk to a prosecution investigator.

    Assistant District Attorney Mitchell Garrell said one or more of the suspects might plead guilty next month. If not, they will be arraigned and trial dates will be set, he said.

    The incident involves a 4-year-old boy who allegedly was tied to a closet doorknob for so long May 6, 2004, that he contracted gangrene. One of his legs had to be amputated.

    Tamekecia Justice, the child's mother, and Randall Lee Hargraves are accused of inflicting serious bodily injury on the boy. Desiree Justice, reportedly the boy's grandmother, faces the same charge.

    Each faces prison time if convicted.

    Hargraves was Tamekecia Justice's boyfriend at the time of the incident, and he has now agreed to speak with an investigator for the prosecution, Garrell said. Desiree Justice has done the same, Garrell said Thursday.

    Garrell previously had said that, despite the suspects' relationships, one of them might turn against the others and cooperate with authorities to avoid a prison term. He declined to elaborate on any possible deals.

    The suspects are free on bail. Court documents list the address for Hargraves and Tamekecia Justice as 2503-B S. Roxboro Road.

    Cases of physical child abuse are not rare in Durham, though they generally appear in court less often than robberies or murders.

    Another serious one was resolved in 2003, when Jeanene L. Scurlock was convicted of dipping her daughter into scalding water, leaving the child with burns to both feet and blisters on the right foot.

    Scurlock was placed on probation for three years and ordered to attend parenting classes and perform 100 hours of unpaid community service work.

    The same year, Tyrone Moore received an active prison sentence of 42 to 60 months after he pleaded guilty to felonious child abuse involving serious injury.

    He was accused of shaking his girlfriend's daughter so hard that it caused bleeding in the child's brain and hemorrhaging in her eyes, among other injuries.

    Posted by Nancy at 12:11 PM | Comments (0)

    January 23, 2005

    Chronic fatigue syndrome

    Study shows link to inactive children
    [US News] By Elizabeth Querna

    Imagine having a hangover that never went away, or feeling exhausted even after the simplest errand. Chronic fatigue syndrome has been described as an "incapacitating tiredness" and afflicts more than half a million Americans. Still, little is known about what causes the disease–doctors usually diagnose it only when other conditions are ruled out. Now, scientists from the Royal Free and University College Medical School in London say there might be a link between childhood activity level and chronic fatigue syndrome as an adult.

    What the researchers wanted to know: What childhood habits might cause adult chronic fatigue syndrome?

    What they did: The researchers used data from a large, multisubject survey that is currently following more than 10,000 British people born at the beginning of April 1970. When the participants were 5, 10, 16, and 29 years old, the researchers checked in on them with a variety of surveys about their healthand physical and educational development. When the children were 10 years old, parents and teachers were interviewed about things including parental illnesses, parents' mental health, students' educational achievement, and the amount of physical activity children had in school. At 29, the participants were asked whether or not they had chronic fatigue syndrome.

    What they found: The people who told the researchers they had chronic fatigue syndrome were more likely to be from a high socioeconomic background and not to have regularly played a sport when they were 10 years old. This result is at odds with an earlier study, which concluded that children who exercised a lot had a higher risk of developing chronic fatigue. Previous research has shown that children whose parents have had a long illness or a mental illness are more likely to develop chronic fatigue; this study found no link between to those parental issues. Overall, fewer than 1 percent of the study participants reported having chronic fatigue syndrome.

    What it means to you: Chronic fatigue syndrome remains a mystery, but each study that chips away at the causes and mechanisms of the disease helps. This study, in contrast to others, supports the idea that having an active lifestyle, even as a child, helps to prevent later health problems–including chronic fatigue.

    Caveats: Chronic fatigue syndrome is notoriously hard to diagnose, and many people go for years without knowing that they have it. This study asked people if they had chronic fatigue syndrome but not if they had been medically diagnosed with it. The study likely missed some people that do actually have it but aren't aware that they do, and may have picked up a few people who are often tired (either from stress or from another condition) but do not have chronic fatigue syndrome.

    Find out more: Several organizations support chronic fatigue syndrome research and patients. One is the American Association for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome http://www.aacfs.org and another is The CFIDS Association of America. http://www.cfids.org There is also a good description of the condition on the National Institutes of Health website. http://www.niaid.nih.gov/factsheets/cfs.htm

    If you want to learn more about the study that is giving researchers this trove of information, check it out at: www.cls.ioe.ac.uk

    Read the article: Viner, R. and Hotopf, M. "Childhood Predictors of Self Reported Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis in Adults: National Birth Cohort Study." British Medical Journal. Oct. 23, 2004, Vol. 329, No. 7472.

    tract online: http://bmj.bmjjournals.com

    Posted by Nancy at 07:31 PM | Comments (0)

    Fibromyalgia Support Group

    January 2005

    A new fibromyalgia support group is forming at Florida Hospital Heartland in Sebring. This group is for those with fibromyalgia and/or their caregivers. This support group is also suggested as the next step after attending the Fibromyalgia Self-Care class, offered by the Arthritis Foundation, through Florida Hospital Heartland Division. For support group dates, call 386-6468. Leave a name and number, and staff will return the call.

    Posted by Nancy at 07:21 PM | Comments (0)

    San Jose man sentenced to 102 years in prison for kidnapping and rape

    January 23, 2005
    San Jose, CA [Associated Press]

    San Jose, Calif. A San Jose man who was convicted of kidnapping and raping a 9-year-old girl has been sentenced to 102 years in prison.

    Daniel Montiel Cruz was sentenced Friday by Santa Clara County Judge Rene Navarro for the three-day abduction in 2003, when the girl was kidnapped from her San Jose home after she returned from school.

    In September, a jury found Cruz guilty of 10 felonies for an assortment of crimes, including burglarizing the house, binding and raping the girl, and assaulting the girl's mother and teen brother.

    The victim, now 11, was not in court, but she wrote a letter telling the judge she would feel safer if Cruz was jailed for the rest of his life.

    Cruz's attorney vowed to appeal the conviction and sentence. He maintains that Cruz was incapable of knowing right from wrong, and suffered post-traumatic stress disorder from childhood abuse.

    Posted by Nancy at 07:16 PM | Comments (0)

    Violence hinders brain development

    January 23, 2005 [Kansas City Star]
    By Mará Rose Williams

    Witnessing violence can make anyone feel bad, but it especially hurts children because their immature brains are more vulnerable to stress.

    So says Linda Chamberlain, a research scientist who spoke Thursday about the effects of childhood exposure to violence on brain development.

    Chamberlain, an epidemiologist who founded the Alaska Family Violence Prevention Project, was the keynote speaker at a workshop organized by the Maternal and Child Health Coalition of Greater Kansas City.

    She discussed the still-maturing brain of adolescents and the often-traumatic effect that violence, including domestic violence, can have. She said trauma experienced by a child might not show up in destructive behaviors until the teen years.

    Chamberlain suggested that when teachers, school counselors or social workers work with children who are abusing alcohol and drugs, having sex, experiencing eating disorders or threatening suicide, the adults should look closely for violence in the home.

    “It doesn't matter if the child has seen it, heard it or just sensed the violence in the home — it will have an effect on them,” she said.

    Several workers from a battered women's shelter said that Chamberlain's association of the developing brain, violence and teen behavior made sense, saying that it explained outbursts they witnessed in children of their shelter clients.

    Chamberlain described each area of the brain and its role in human development. Many changes in the brain, she said, occur during adolescence. For some, adolescence extends until age 20; for others, as late as 26.

    Because the young brain is not fully developed, especially the prefrontal lobe, which determines judgment, organization and self-control, that area is more vulnerable to stress brought on by exposure to violence.

    The younger a child's age, the more development of the brain is compromised and the longer lasting the effects.

    “By age 12, children exposed to violence are more likely to be diagnosed with depression, anxiety and defiance disorders associated with post-traumatic stress disorder,” Chamberlain said.

    All types of violence are culprits, including television and video-game violence in which consequences for actions are not clear.

    “Parents, cut the cable, save a brain,” Chamberlain said.

    But the worst violence for children and adolescents, she said, is family violence.

    “Seeing parents or other adults fight can feel as bad to a teen as being hit themselves,” she said.

    Posted by Nancy at 07:05 PM | Comments (0)

    180 people with post-traumatic stress disorder needed for UW study

    January 2005 {University of Washington] uwnews.org

    Approximately 70 percent of people in the United States experience a traumatic event during their lifetime and a significant number of these people later develop post-traumatic stress disorder, a chronic and debilitating condition that can persist for months or even years.

    While there are several tested treatments for the disorder, very little is known about their comparable effectiveness. That's why University of Washington researchers are looking for 180 Puget Sound men and women who are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder to participate in a new study that will compare the effectiveness of state-of-the-art medication and psychotherapy treatments.

    Between 8 and 14 percent of the people who experience such events develop persistent symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder that can impair their lives, according to Lori Zoellner, a UW associate psychology professor. These symptoms include recurrent thoughts of the trauma; intense feelings of fear and anxiety when reminded of the event; nightmares; avoiding situations, people or thoughts associated with the trauma; feeling numb or having difficulty experiencing strong emotions; sweating, racing heart or hot or cold flashes when reminded of the trauma; and jumpiness or a tendency to be easily startled.

    Participants in the study will receive free treatment for 10 weeks and follow-up assessments over a 24-month period, said Zoellner. In addition to the treatment, participants can earn up to $300 for completing follow-up assessments. At the UW, Zoellner is directing the $2.6 million multi-site study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health.

    To be eligible for the study, men and women must be between the ages of 18 and 65 and have chronic post-traumatic stress disorder after experiencing a traumatic event such as sexual assault, robbery, automobile accident, assault with a weapon, combat or a natural disaster.

    People in the study will receive at least 10 weeks of treatment -- either the medication sertraline (Zoloft) or a form of cognitive behavioral therapy called prolonged exposure. Both treatment options are well established and have previously been shown to be effective in treating post-traumatic stress disorder in large-scale randomized controlled trials. One of the main goals of the study is to directly compare these two treatments. Following the 10 weeks of treatment, participants may continue on the medication or receive booster therapy sessions, as needed, for 24 months. Those people who do not respond to the treatment they receive can switch to the other treatment option.

    The study also is designed to look at the role of choice in treatment compliance and outcome. Half of the participants will select the treatment of their choice while the others will be randomly assigned to medication or therapy.

    "In the real world people pick their treatment. Our study will let us look at the role of choice in treatment outcomes, " Zoellner said.

    In addition, the study also is designed to measure long-term treatment effectiveness through the 24-month follow-up and to assess relapse.

    Through this process, the researchers hope to better understand what treatments work better for particular patients both in the short term and long term for the disorder, according to Zoellner.

    People who would like to participate in the study or have questions about it should contact Helen Miller, a research assistant at the UW's Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress, at (206) 685-3617

    Posted by Nancy at 06:54 PM | Comments (0)

    First Lady of Tennessee Takes Action

    January 2005

    Andrea Conte, first lady of Tennessee is walking across the state of Tennesee to raise awareness and funds to help abused children in Tennessee.

    First Lady Andrea Conte is a long time victim advocate and has been involved for many years with Child Advocacy Centers in Tennessee. The fund raising goal for this walk across the state of Tennessee is $1 Million Dollars. (Let's hope she raises more)

    In her walk across the state she is inviting others to walk short segments with her. This walk spans several months and is raising awareness of child abuse. The walk is also raising much needed funds for 27 different organizations that provide counseling for child victims, awareness programs or professional training.

    To contribute to her project, to walk with her, or to read more, visit Andrea Walks

    Statistics from AndreaWalks.com website:

    Staggering Statistics on Child Abuse In Tennessee
       In 2003, 11,801 children were victims of some type of abuse.
       2,229 of those children were victims of sexual abuse
       and 1,529 were victims of physical abuse
       9 children died as a result of physical abuse.

    The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services offers a 24 hour hotline for reporting suspected child abuse: 1-877-237-0004

    You may also report suspected child abuse to your local law enforcement officials.

    AndreaWalks comes to East Tennessee in February through April 2005 To view the entire AndreaWalks schedule, click here

    Posted by Nancy at 06:22 PM | Comments (0)

    Child abuse still matters to many as progress is being made

    January 23, 2005 [Grand Island Independant] By Mike Bockoven

    Around six months ago, Dori Bush and other members of the Association for Child Abuse Prevention set up a Walk for Child Abuse Prevention aimed at raising funds for agencies working to protect children.

    The response wasn't what they expected.

    "We had just a bad response," said Bush, a longtime child advocate. "We had thought, with the Molina situation, we'd have a lot of walkers. We didn't."

    Of course, one event isn't enough to discourage those interested in children's issues nor enough to paint an accurate picture of volunteerism in the community. However, it's not hard to look around the state and see that child abuse is still a big problem, and many are still not aware of the situation.

    The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services reported last week that the number of reported child abuse and neglect cases increased from 2,316 cases where evidence was found in 2002 to 2,423 in 2003. Numbers for 2004 were not yet available.

    In addition, this week saw a man sentenced to between 50 and 60 years in prison for beating his 3-year-old stepdaughter to death in Omaha. It's a case that mirrors that of Diana N. Molina, a 2-year-old Grand Island girl who was beaten to death by her father in July 2003.

    Months after the Molina case was made public, hundreds of volunteer hours and thousands of dollars had poured into efforts to help educate and curb child abuse. Bush said that, at the time, the response was overwhelming. But since, as with anything, interest has declined after the horrors inflicted on the Grand Island girl faded from memory.

    The problem, Bush said, is that child abuse is still a problem that needs champions.

    "The problem isn't getting any better, and it's frustrating for us who are advocates," she said. "All of us are frustrated. Nothing is going to change if people don't get involved. Volunteerism is so important. It can't be stressed enough."

    That's not to say there are no efforts in the area making a difference. Aside from advocates such as ACAP, Heartland Court Appointed Special Advocate and many others, the Little Diana Task Force, named after the slain child, has a grant program that continues to fund child abuse prevention efforts.

    Karen Rathke, who helped form the task force, said there should be no mistake that progress has been made and awareness has been raised. But now that there is no high-profile case to grab people's attention, it's harder to elicit the same level of enthusiasm.

    "I think people got involved and continue to be involved at the level they need to be," Rathke said. "Now that we're in the update mode and report mode, it's not as visible as it was before."

    Rathke also said there is a heightened sense of awareness that many still feel after Molina, and the effects of that are hard to quantify. Who knows how many people have called authorities because they suspected child abuse or stepped in and provided aid to a battered mother and family, she asked?

    Kathy Moore, director of Voices for Children Nebraska, a statewide organization dedicated to children's issues, said she has no doubt many people were touched by the Molina case or whenever a high-profile child abuse case comes down the media pipeline.

    The problem is that many feel as if there's nothing they can do because the problem is so widespread. More disturbing to her, she said, is how few people act upon their feelings of disgust and indignation.

    "One element is desensitization, and the other is a moment of concern followed by hopelessness," she said. "During the Molina trial, I ran into many people who said they couldn't read a report in the newspaper or watch it on TV. That troubles me. If they don't see what's happening with our children, how can they ever hope to make a difference?"

    Not just in Grand Island, but across the state, feelings of skepticism and frustration with the issue are becoming more prevalent, she said.

    Dianne Muhlbach, director of Heartland CASA in Grand Island, said she feels there are many people in this area that care very deeply about child abuse issues and will continue to whether there's a high-profile case or not. That being said, she needs volunteers to serve in the program as a voice for children when they enter the court system.

    "There are a lot of people who care very much. I see it every day," she said. "If something needs to change, people get worked up."

    Many of the advocates are aware that child abuse will never be something that is solved. Many, however, speak of "breaking the cycle" with the next generation, letting them know that, whatever their background, child abuse isn't acceptable.

    Volunteers are needed, but so is a shift in thinking, Bush said.

    "The bottom line is I am so tired of the response being, 'Let's provide more services,'" she said. "When are people going to realize you need prevention efforts? If we can do a huge job of educating, we might break the cycle."

    Posted by Nancy at 06:10 PM | Comments (0)

    Education cited for child abuse reporting rise

    An Australian cultural studies expert says better community education is behind an increase in reported cases of child abuse.
    January 2005

    An Australian cultural studies expert says better community education is behind an increase in reported cases of child abuse.

    The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found reports of suspected child abuse, harm or neglect rose by more than 21,000 across Australia in 2003 to 2004, compared to the previous year.

    It also found notifications have more than doubled in the last four years.

    Professor Karen Brooks from Queensland's University of the Sunshine Coast says better education means more people are filing complaints.

    "Per capita, per head the incidence of sexual abuse is probably pretty much the same because even now as indeed 10, 20, 100 years ago, there are still people not coming forward and reporting what's happened to them," she said.

    "This is proving that we still need to go further with this education."

    Posted by Nancy at 06:04 PM | Comments (0)

    Man charged with sex abuse

    January 23, 2005 [Central Kentucky News-Journal] By James Roberts

    A Campbellsville man already serving 21 years for rape has been indicted on a charge of first-degree sex abuse.

    Michael Earl Gaskins, 41, who is currently serving time at the Kentucky State Reformatory, was indicted in Taylor Circuit Court on Tuesday.

    According to the indictment, Gaskins subjected a minor to sexual contact in the fall of 1999.

    Campbellsville Police Department Detective Pat Skeens said the child, who was 8 years old at the time, was too afraid to come forward when the abuse occurred. As the child grew older, it was more difficult to keep the abuse a secret. The child reported the incident to a sibling, who told the children's mother.

    Police arrested Gaskins in September 2001 when he kidnapped a 14-year-old girl at knife point and held her hostage at his home for more than eight hours while he raped and sodomized her.

    In November 2002, Gaskins was sentenced to 21 years in prison for second-degree burglary, attempted kidnapping, five counts of third-degree rape, five counts of third-degree sodomy and one count of intimidation of a witness.

    No bond was set for the sex abuse charge. If convicted , Gaskins could be sentenced to as much as five years in prison.

    Posted by Nancy at 05:56 PM | Comments (0)

    New allegation in abuse case

    Former Olympic judge allegedly confronted in '92 about claims of child molestation
    January 22, 2005 [Fort Worth Star-telegram] By Max B. Baker

    National diving coaches confronted Wirt Norris, a former Olympic diving judge from Texas, more than a decade ago about child molestation allegations, according to two former divers.

    The divers said two coaches challenged Norris at a 1992 diving competition after being told that one of the divers had been molested by Norris years earlier in Fort Worth.

    That diver, Pat Harrington, now 45 and a psychologist in California, is among more than 15 men scheduled to testify against Norris at a pretrial hearing Jan. 31.

    Norris, 77, a prominent Fort Worth real estate agent, has repeatedly denied molesting anyone. His lawyer said he would have to investigate the latest allegations.

    Accusations against Norris surfaced publicly in 2002, when a Fort Worth family began to pursue a civil lawsuit against him. He has since been charged in Tarrant County with molesting one youth in 1995 and attempting to molest another in 1987.

    Plan for trip spurred action

    Harrington studied diving with Norris at the Panther Boys Club in Fort Worth and went on to become a member of the U.S. diving team in 1980 and 1984.

    He said he stepped forward in 1992 to thwart Norris' plans to take young divers on a postseason trip to Hawaii.

    "When I heard what was about to happen, that he was going to go to Hawaii with these young boys, I thought, 'We can't let this happen,' " Harrington told the Star-Telegram.

    A friend, Mark Virts, said he alerted Vince Panzano, now coach at Ohio State University, and Randy Ableman, now a University of Miami coach, about the allegations.

    Neither Panzano nor Ableman returned repeated telephone calls from the Star-Telegram.

    Virts said he witnessed the confrontation between Panzano and Norris and that he later discussed it with Ableman.

    Virts said the Hawaii trip never happened and that Norris was ostracized by the national diving community after the 1992 incident.

    The Star-Telegram typically does not name victims of sexual abuse, but Harrington agreed to be identified after reading about the criminal allegations against Norris.

    Curb on testimony sought

    Alan Levy, a Tarrant County assistant district attorney, said Harrington's decision to speak out is a "significant breakthrough" in the criminal case against Norris.

    Levy encouraged others who may have been molested by Norris to contact authorities.

    Mike Ware, Norris' attorney in the criminal case, is fighting to keep testimony from Harrington and the other men out of Norris' trial.

    "As far as we are concerned, this is a brand-new allegation, and it will have to be investigated," Ware said.

    The Hallman family of Fort Worth was the first to go public with complaints against Norris. The Hallmans filed civil court documents in 2002, accusing Norris of molesting Will Hallman at Norris' Eagle Mountain Lake home in 1995, when Hallman was 12. Hallman is now 21.

    In 2003, a Tarrant County grand jury indicted Norris on charges of indecency/fondling and indecent exposure in the Hallman case.

    Second indictment in 2004

    A year later, Norris was indicted on charges of attempted sexual assault and attempted indecency in a second case in which the accuser, now 28, said Norris had tried to molest him at the lake house in 1987. More than a dozen other men have since come forward with similar allegations dating to at least 1956, according to a list of prospective witnesses filed in the criminal case by the district attorney's office.

    Those cases are too old for charges to be filed. Under state law, charges must be filed within 10 years of the accuser's 18th birthday.

    But the men tell similar stories: that as youths they became sexually involved with Norris. In a few instances the men allege that Norris drew them into sexual acts with another man or with other youths. The men said the encounters occurred in Fort Worth, Arkansas, California, Maryland and Michigan, court records show.

    State District Judge Wayne Salvant will decide if the men will be allowed to testify at Norris' trial in the Hallman case, set for May.

    Posted by Nancy at 05:49 PM | Comments (0)

    Woman suing for abuse comes face to face with accused priest

    THE REV. JAMES POOLE: After she filed against him, two others followed her lead.
    January 23, 2005 [Anchorage Daily News] By Nicole Tsong

    When the woman known as Jane Doe 1 entered the room for the deposition of the Rev. James Poole, the Jesuit priest she has accused of molesting her as a child in Nome, she hadn't seen him in more than a decade.

    He looked smaller than she remembered. He spoke almost like a little kid about their interaction. But his scent, the intimate smell of someone that rekindles memories, hadn't changed.

    "It was the same smell," she recalled in a recent interview, before taking a break to compose herself.

    Jane Doe sued Poole, the Diocese of Fairbanks, the Society of Jesus, Oregon Province and Alaska Jesuits in March last year, accusing the priest who founded Catholic radio station KNOM of molesting her as a child. Two other women subsequently filed similar molestation claims against the priest, who is 81 and lives in a Jesuit home in Spokane, Wash.

    Poole has called some of the allegations against him "highly inflammatory and highly exaggerated" and has denied others.

    Jane Doe, 37 and originally from the Bethel area, has accused Poole of molesting her more than 100 times, starting in 1978 in Nome during summer visits when she was 10 and lasting until she was 16. The abuse included kissing, heavy petting and having her lie on top of him, the suit says. She said he had her sit on his lap and they kissed for hours.

    Jane Doe, who has remained anonymous since she filed the lawsuit, said she didn't intend to sue the church when she first reported Poole to church officials.

    She initially approached the church after she heard about another lawsuit filed by men claiming sexual abuse by the Rev. Jules Convert. Still a practicing Catholic, she wanted to see how the church would respond. After she had trouble contacting Fairbanks' then-chancellor, the Rev. Richard Case, over the phone and grew increasingly anxious and emotional, she wrote Fairbanks Bishop Donald Kettler a letter dated Sept. 20 outlining her complaints.

    An interview in person with the bishop in September didn't help, she said. She said he continually referred to the legal issues involved, when she wanted him to be compassionate, listen to her and tell her it was OK to feel the way she did.

    Kettler said recently that he went into that interview without much information about Jane Doe or Poole.

    "My intention was not to somehow frustrate her, but my intention was to offer counseling," he said. "I don't think I had any preconceived intentions. I just wanted to work with her the best I could."

    But she was troubled by subsequent discussions about counseling, she said. She felt the bishop made it difficult by putting parameters on paying for a counselor. She decided then to discuss suing with attorney Ken Roosa.

    "I've never had a client less eager to see me," Roosa said. But "she wanted to be treated in a pastoral fashion, to be treated as a human being and a Catholic."

    The Jesuits now pay for her counseling, she said.

    Jane Doe said she always knew the relationship with Poole was wrong and told friends about it in the past. But only recently, with the help of a counselor, did she realize it was sexual abuse, she said.

    Poole was a close family friend, and she has come to regard the relationship as incestuous, Jane Doe said. He took advantage of her vulnerability, she said, telling her he loved her and that she was special.

    "I can see now it was a sick relationship," she said. "How could I kiss a priest? It just seems so absurd."

    Jane Doe said she also feels that the church does not want to take responsibility for what happened. Most recently, attorneys for Poole and the diocese have asked the judge to dismiss the case based on the statute of limitations, arguing the claims were too old to consider under the law. The Alaska Supreme Court already is considering that argument in the Convert case, which has plaintiffs with claims reaching as far back as the 1950s.

    Jane Doe still carries the letter she wrote Kettler in her purse, its edges now worn. She said she hopes to settle the case but is ready to go to trial if she has to.

    "It's just appalling to me," she said. "They know the truth."

    Posted by Nancy at 05:32 PM | Comments (0)

    January 22, 2005

    Tasmania child abuse notifications increase

    January 2005

    The number of notifications of suspected child abuse in Tasmania has increased from around 700 to more than 7,000 over a 12 month period.

    Between 2003 and 2004 authorities received 7,250 calls about suspected child abuse or "notifications".

    In the previous year, there were just 740.

    The authors of the Institute of Health and Welfare report attribute the increase to changes in reporting methods, not an increase in abuse.

    Under the new system introduced in mid-2003, all calls received and not just those which are substantiated, are included in the tally.

    The report also found neglect was the most common form of abuse, and that only 18 per cent of reported cases were fully investigated.

    Posted by Nancy at 02:51 PM | Comments (0)

    Child death probe leads police to father in Huntsville

    January 22, 2005 [Associated Press]

    ORLANDO, Fla. Florida authorities say the husband of a woman accused of killing their four-year-old daughter has been arrested in Huntsville, Alabama. He will be sent back to Orange County, Florida to face aggravated child-abuse charges.

    Police said 25-year-old Nathan Gadison was picked up Tuesday. He is not considered a suspect in the death of young Kai Gadison. But the Orange County sheriff's homicide detectives who interviewed Gadison in Alabama said he admitted hitting his kids as well as failing to protect the children from his wife, 27-year-old Kenya Hill. She's charged with first-degree murder and child abuse.

    Detectives have spoken with Gadison a few times by phone since Kai was found dead in a filthy motel room shared with her mother and four siblings last month. At one point, Gadison agreed to return to Florida to answer questions, but that never happened.

    Authorities received a break when Gadison called Detective Mark Hussey and Hussey told him that he was cleared in the little girl's death and would gladly mail him a sheriff's report. Gadison disclosed a Huntsville address, and he was arrested soon after.

    Posted by Nancy at 02:45 PM | Comments (0)

    Portales man indicted on child abuse charge

    January 22, 2005 [Associated Press]

    Clovis - A Portales man is accused of causing head injuries to his three-month-old son. The infant was seen at Roosevelt General Hospital on New Year's eve and then airlifted to Texas hospital.

    Medical reports say he suffered internal injuries to the brain.

    Twenty-four-year-old Robert Neely told police he had fallen on the child while watching him. The investigation determined Neely's story was inconsistent with the injuries.

    District Attorney Matthew Chandler says Neely was indicted by a grand jury yesterday on a charge of first-degree child abuse.

    Neely was being held on a 50-thousand-dollar cash-only bond.

    Posted by Nancy at 10:24 AM | Comments (0)

    January 21, 2005

    Examiner: Injuries 'classic child abuse'

    January 21, 2005 [Charlotte Observer]
    Affidavit said suspect in toddler's death gave conflicting accounts
    By Lena Warmack, Staff Writer

    A state medical examiner told police that injuries to 22-month-old Alexander Johnson Christmas were "classic child abuse injury," according to a search warrant affidavit filed by a Concord detective after the child's death.

    The search warrant application was prompted partly by reports from witnesses who told police they had heard someone took out a life insurance policy on the boy before he died Jan. 2.

    Police said Thursday that the search failed to turn up such a policy. But the affidavit says Trevor Lawrence Brown, 21, who is charged with first-degree murder in connection with Alexander's death, gave police different accounts of how the toddler was injured.

    Detective J.C. Tierney, who applied for the warrant, also said Brown told a friend several weeks before Alexander died that the Cabarrus County Department of Social Services was blaming him for injuries to the child, according to the affidavit.

    A magistrate issued the warrant Jan. 6, the day after Brown was indicted.

    Alexander lived with Brown, 21, Johnson, 36, and her 9-year-old daughter at Johnson's Concord apartment. Police said Alexander's 9-year-old sister was not injured. She is in foster care now.

    According to the affidavit, Dr. Michael Sullivan of the N.C. Medical Examiner's Office told detectives that Alexander died after a penetrating blow to his abdomen by either a kick or a punch.

    Sullivan told police Alexander's injuries were "classic child abuse injury," the affidavit said.

    In the affidavit, Tierney gave the following account of police interviews with Johnson, Brown and several friends and neighbors of each:

    Johnson told police that while she was at work Jan. 1, Brown called her and told her Alexander was throwing up.

    In an interview Jan. 2, Brown told police he had tripped over Alexander and accidentally fallen on his stomach a few days before he died, according to the affidavit.

    But in an interview Jan. 4, Brown told detectives that on Jan. 1, the day before Alexander died, he was "upset with some of the things that were going on" between him and Johnson. Brown "had Alex in his hands and his mind slipped a little," according to the affidavit.

    In that interview, Brown told police he threw Alexander into a couch, aiming for the pillows, but misjudged, and Alexander hit the armrest, according to the affidavit.

    "He then started playing horsey with Alex and accidentally dropped Alex on (Brown's) knee hard," Tierney wrote in the affidavit. Brown said Alexander landed on his knee stomach-first, according to the affidavit.

    When Johnson returned home that night, she told police, Alexander looked sick. Every time he tried to drink water, he would vomit. He would not eat, and he vomited often throughout the night, according to the affidavit.

    Johnson fell asleep beside Alexander about 5 a.m., according to the affidavit. When she awoke about 8 a.m., she found Alexander unresponsive and called 911, she told police.

    A neighbor told detectives that Johnson told her she had asked Alexander, "What happened to you? Did Trevor do this to you?" and Alexander said yes, according to the affidavit.

    Johnson declined to comment for this story. Brown is being held without bail in the Cabarrus County jail.

    Cabarrus DSS Director Jim Cook said social workers had not known that Brown had significant involvement with the family.

    Before Alexander died, medical providers had told DSS about three injuries to Alexander, one in mid-November and two in December, Cook said.

    Keith Christmas, 46, the boy's father, said the toddler suffered several injuries since mid-November, including a sewing needle lodged in his buttocks, cuts under his left eye and inside his lip, and a bed falling on his hands.

    "... Our assessment of the injuries that the child had received prior to his death ... was that we had an active child for whom (the lack of) supervision and childproofing of the house would have been the likely cause of the injuries that we saw," Cook said.

    Posted by Nancy at 04:25 PM | Comments (0)

    Child Abuse Expert Can Testify in Jackson Case

    January 21, 2005 [Reuters]
    By Dan Whitcomb

    Santa Maria, Calif. (Reuters) - Prosecutors can call a child abuse expert to testify at Michael Jackson (news)'s molestation trial, a judge ruled on Friday, even as the defense claimed that the pop star's young accuser was a liar.

    Jackson's lead attorney, Tom Mesereau, argued that the expert should not be allowed to tell jurors about the effects of child molestation if the 15-year-old boy and his family were making up the sex abuse in court.

    "What if they are flat-out liars?" Mesereau asked Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville during a pretrial hearing in the case in the central California town of Santa Maria. "They have a history of lying in school ... and lying in the community."

    He added that the defense intended to argue that the boy and his siblings were lying to win money from Jackson and that the child abuse expert would be used by prosecutors to paper over holes in their testimony.

    "What if the court says 'this case is ridiculous?" Mesereau said. "These people have no credibility at all."

    Prosecutors want the expert, whom they did not name in court, to testify that child victims often wait to report abuse, are reluctant to confide in those closest to them, give piecemeal accounts and retain an affection for their abuser.

    They have asked that the courtroom be closed when Jackson's accuser takes the witness stand. Melville has not yet ruled on that request.

    Melville said on Thursday that he would summon 750 possible jurors to his courtroom over three days beginning on Jan. 31, and would give questionnaires to those who can serve on a trial that is expected to last up to six months.

    Lawyers would then scrutinize the questionnaires, which have not been made public, before formal jury selection begins the following week.

    Jury selection is expected to take at least several weeks, which means opening statements in the sensational case would not likely begin before March. Some 80 news organizations from the U.S., Britain, Japan, Germany, Mexico and elsewhere have applied for seats in court or in a special overflow room.

    Jackson is charged in a 10-count indictment with lewd acts on a child under the age of 14 and with conspiracy. The 46-year-old entertainer has pleaded not guilty.

    Posted by Nancy at 04:17 PM | Comments (0)

    Judge to review scope, cost of diocese child abuse audit

    Jan. 21, 2005 [The Telegraph]
    By Albert McKeon

    MANCHESTER - A judge will try to breathe life into the stalled state review of child protection policies implemented by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester in the wake of the clergy abuse crisis.

    On Thursday, the church and the state presented varying interpretations of the historic criminal agreement that both sides entered two years ago, demonstrating in a courtroom that differences essentially arise on the scope and cost of the audit.

    The biggest sticking point is the extent to which the state can review the diocese’s abuse policies. Prosecutors want to interview anyone who will use the diocese’s procedures, but church officials claim that process crosses a constitutional boundary.

    Hillsborough County Superior Court Judge Carol Conboy took the case under consideration, and urged the two parties to negotiate privately in the meantime. Conboy also offered to mediate any relevant issue as she prepared a decision.

    Representatives for the state attorney general’s office and the diocese openly expressed a desire to keep the pact relevant. They both spoke of making the protection of children a paramount goal.

    The diocese’s attorney, David Vicinanzo, told Conboy the church would consent to an immediate review of abuse policies. Prosecutors, though, replied that the diocese’s audit terms prevent any meaningful review of those policies.

    In signing the criminal agreement in December 2002, Bishop John McCormack acknowledged that diocesan officials could have faced charges for endangering children through their handling of abusive priests. The diocese accepted an annual state audit for five years.

    The state, though, has not conducted an audit. Tuesday’s oral arguments exhibited the divide on the scope of such a review.

    State prosecutors asked the court to approve an audit that can question active parishioners - those who work or volunteer for the church - on the effectiveness of the diocesan child protection program. To gauge the efficiency of the diocesan policy, prosecutors must pose direct questions to the people who would use it, and not limit an audit to a less extensive review, said state Assistant Attorney General Ann Larney.

    “If the policies and procedures don’t work, if it looks good only on paper . . . where are we? We’re back to 2002,” Larney said.

    But Vicinanzo argued that the state’s audit proposal is open-ended, and that it veers from the agreement’s original terms: prosecutors measuring only compliance. To that end, the diocese has implemented a system that reports abuse to the state, and it has shared all policies and paperwork, he said.

    Vicinanzo cited federal constitutional protections in trying to stop the state from potentially asking questions that he said would measure parishioners’ perceptions of the church’s handling of abuse claims.

    “It should be narrow, and not have changing terms by the state,” he said of a proposed audit. “The perceptions and opinions of parishioners inserts the state right into the middle of parishioners (and) church leaders.”

    Larney, though, argued that the audit would not ask questions of a religious nature, meaning the diocese’s First Amendment argument does not apply. She also suggested the diocese waived any constitutional protection by signing the agreement.

    The audit’s scope would have a narrow, secular focus so that prosecutors can determine if church personnel have a firm grasp of diocesan abuse policies, she said.

    “The diocese entered into the agreement to prevent abuse. The church is not immune” to criminal review under the law, Larney said.

    An attorney who said he represented a group of Catholics and some abuse victims also addressed the court. David Braiterman focused on the church’s past handling of abuse in more striking language than prosecutors did, and he urged Conboy to hold the diocese accountable to the agreement it signed.

    Most of the abuse allegations investigated by prosecutors occurred decades ago. Vicinanzo said he objected to the state recently claiming the diocese had allowed the abuse of minors for four decades. Rather, almost every document shows the abuse transpired in a previous generation, he said, suggesting current church leadership has complied with state law.

    Conboy will also try to reconcile the argument over the audit’s estimated $445,000 cost. Both sides acknowledge the criminal agreement does not specify who should pay for the review. The church wants the state to shoulder the cost, but the state has recently offered to pay as much as half.

    Posted by Nancy at 04:11 PM | Comments (0)

    DCS announces new child abuse reporting hotline

    January 21, 2005 [Star Gazette]
    By Terra Temple

    It was September 2002 when the Tennessee Department of Children's Services began a new method of reporting child abuse and neglect.

    Three years later, that method is making its way across the state.

    It will take effect in Northwest Tennessee at midnight Jan. 25.

    Now, those referrals in Dyer, Lake, Crockett, Obion, Gibson, Weakley, Benton, Carroll and Henry counties will be made by calling the toll-free number 1-877-237-0004.

    That number connects the caller to the Central Intake Unit in Nashville where the call is screened, the decision to assign to the proper county is made and its priority is given.

    "Up until this point, we did all of that," said Phyllis Webb, team leader for the Child Protective Services Unit of the DCS office in Dyer County. "Now when it gets here, it will be assigned to an investigator."

    Northwest Tennessee is among the last places the CI method has been implemented. DCS hopes to have it statewide by the end of March.

    The new process, explained Dianne Mangrum, who became director of Central Intake in January, cuts down on the paperwork done at local offices, giving investigators more time to work on their cases. It also provides the state a way to have a central database system.

    When a call comes to CI, the operator asks a number of questions about the situation -- the child's name, age, address, grade and school attended, the parents' names and address and "all the information you can give in regard to the abuse or neglect," Webb said. "The people taking the referral have key questions. You need to provide as much information as you can -- who is doing what -- about the situation. They need all the information possible so they'll know what priority to assign and so we'll know what questions to ask when we get there and so we'll know what to look for."

    From the referral given, CI, which through the database can quickly see the past history of the situation, takes the information, filter it through the DCS criteria, assigns it a priority and sends it on to the appropriate office.

    "The only thing changing is the number and the way we get it," Webb said of the procedure.

    For priority to CI, law enforcement and medical personnel have a separate phone number. However, "in a dire situation, a true emergency, law enforcement can still call DCS directly and we'll let CI know," Webb said. "If law enforcement calls and needs us, we'll go.

    Child Protective Services is a unit of the Department of Children's Services. DCS in Dyersburg covers Dyer, Obion, Lake and Crockett counties. Its CPS unit investigates referrals in Dyer and Crockett counties.

    CPS reviews reports of abuse and neglect, investigating those reports for 60 days and determining the child's safety.

    Webb said they receive approximately 75 to 100 calls a month for Dyer and Crockett counties.

    "Those that we screen have to meet criteria for investigation," she said.

    That criteria "is lengthy" but depends on three main components -- the situation, the past history and child's age. "If they're 3 and under, we (investigate) no matter what," Webb said.

    Cases are assigned a priority number. Priority 1 means the case will be investigated within that day. Priority 2 means it will be investigated within 24 hours. Priority 3 means it will be investigated within five days. All sex-abuse cases are Priority 1.

    Once the case is assigned and investigated by CPS, three things can happen:

    -- If there is no safety issue, the case is closed.

    -- If there is, it then goes to targeted case management where ongoing case managers work on the issues that need to be addressed.

    -- If the safety risk is great, the child is removed from the home and then goes to the foster care unit of DCS.

    "Our work is short term but it's very intense working within the home," Webb said.

    Mangrum noted that investigation process is left to the local level.

    "Once we process the referral, we're through," she said. "CI can't assign a case if it doesn't fit the criteria. If there's a disagreement (with CPS), the decision can be revisited. We're there to protect the children and help families."

    In the long run, Webb believes the new decision process "will be beneficial. We had a three-prong process here (regionally) as a safety net," Webb said.

    But if there are concerns, "there is a process we can discuss the priority (assigned)," she said. "We've done this for so many years and know those we deal with and they know us. Those are the kinds of things that can be worked out."

    Central Intake provides the public with a single phone number to report suspected abuse and neglect of children, consolidating and centralizing reports.

    DCS began using CI in September 2002 in a pilot program in three regions -- Shelby County, south central and southeast -- operating Monday through Friday. In January 2003, it went 24/7.

    Thirteen months later, Davidson County was added. In August 2004, the rest of East Tennessee was added and "calls escalated and went through the roof," Mangrum said. "We find that when we take on a new region, we get more calls than that region ever recorded. As a result, the caseloads go up."

    Northwest and Southwest Tennessee were added in January. Knox County and Northeast Tennessee will be added in February. The rest of the state, Hamilton County and the Mid-Cumberland region, will be added by March 31.

    "We want people to understand that we're here to help the local (DCS) office protect the children and not be a burden," Mangrum said, noting that almost all CI supervisors have a CPS background and that calls are recorded for quality assurance.

    While secretaries took referrals at the Dyersburg office, in many areas the investigators take them. Mangrum noted that by DCS going to CI, it takes that much more paperwork off them.

    "When a call's received, the first is decision is by a background check," Mangrum said. "The supervisor will know the number of the reference called in and can see when the case was opened and how many times we've been involved on that child. That takes the people in the local offices a long, long time to do. This will save time in the end when the case is assigned. There's a lot of paperwork that goes with a referral and by taking the reference process off the counties, they're able to do their business -- seeing children instead of having to do a lot of paperwork."

    The local DCS office has been aware of the change for a year. Mangrum and other CI representatives came to Dyersburg in mid-December to explain the new process to those working in the field -- school counselors, law enforcement, judges, attorneys, youth workers, etc.

    "We found that when we go into a community there are a lot of fears and concerns of calling people that you don't know," Mangrum told them. "We're not taking away from your relationship with local people here. We have the historical data but the information that you have can't be captured in every record. We want to do what we can to protect children. You know what is best for the community and the families you work with."

    For emergency cases, calls can still be made to the local office.

    "Through the pilot program, we learned in truly emergency situations there's no sense in calling CI, that the local CPS should be called," Mangrum said. "We know that in the time of a crisis situation, time is of the essence. The paperwork can wait. Even if we were called in an emergency situation, we'd get someone out there ASAP."

    Calls about child abuse/neglect from the general public can still be made anonymously. Walk-ins can also still come to the DCS office to make a referral; those workers can call CI and help the person file the information. If requested, CI will give notification reports about the case's assignment to the person making the referral.

    "It takes a lot of guts for people to make referrals, especially those who aren't in the profession," Mangrum said.

    CI operates 24/7 and so far has received approximately 350 calls a day.

    "You'll always get a live person when you call," Mangrum said. "If the computers go down, that will do nothing to the quality of calls. We'll go to paper and pencil, call the county and when it comes back up, put it in the system. We're not waiting until it comes up to protect children."

    When those referrals come after hours, a paging system is activated until the investigator is contacted.

    "They have backups until they get somebody," Webb said. "They'll tell them the situation orally and then send the electronic report the next day."

    Webb said from what she's heard from other areas, the response to CI is mixed.

    "People always have concerns about changes," she said. "This is the process we've been given and we'll do the best we can with it. I'm sure it will be fine; it'll just take getting used to."

    And that is something CI representatives understand.

    "We want this to succeed and be good for the community," Mangrum said.

    More information about reporting child abuse/neglect and DCS is available at www.state.tn.us/youth/cps/index.htm

    Posted by Nancy at 04:06 PM | Comments (0)

    New office helps child abuse victims

    January 21, 2005

    Valdosta, GA - Victims of child abuse and trauma now have a new place to get help.

    The Children's Advocacy Center opened a new and improved office this week. The facility, located on West Moore Street, is about 4,000 square feet and double the size of their old office.

    There's a large intake area, therapy clinic, board room, and private interview rooms. "We have several entrances and exits, so if you're coming for a board meeting you can come in one way and leave that same saw and never go to the lobby and if you're coming for therapy you can come in a separate door, go to the therapist office and never see the other people," said Laura Bajalia, Director.

    The building is being paid for with donations and money raised during the center's capital campaign.

    Posted by Nancy at 04:04 PM | Comments (0)

    66-year-old man gets five years in prison for sex abuse

    January 21, 2005 [Daily Progress]
    By Kate Andrews, staff writer

    PALMYRA - A 66-year-old Troy man will serve five years in prison in a child sex abuse case that ended in a plea agreement Thursday.

    Curtis Oneal Minor entered an Alford plea in Fluvanna County Circuit Court, denying guilt but acknowledging overwhelming evidence against him.

    He received a 25-year sentence, with all but five years suspended.

    Minor entered pleas for two counts of aggravated sexual battery and one count of carnal knowledge of a child, both felonies.

    “Obviously, I don’t think five years is enough for that act,” Fluvanna Commonwealth’s Attorney Jeff Haislip said, “but this case was different from your average case.”

    Haislip declined to discuss details of the agreement, but acknowledged that Minor’s age and poor health were considerations.

    In October, Minor pleaded not guilty to felony charges of aggravated sexual battery, proposing a sex act to a child and forcible sodomy with a child. Those charges were dropped Jan. 6.

    In Thursday’s case, Minor had been charged with eight more counts of forcible sodomy involving the first victim’s sister. Four of the sodomy charges were later downgraded to carnal knowledge of a child, and two others were changed to aggravated sexual battery. The plea agreement was reached Tuesday, according to the court clerk’s office.

    A third, older sister was expected to testify about Minor’s past alleged sexual misconduct with her.

    “I’m never happy when somebody goes to prison, but it’s something he thought he had to do,” said Mike Caudill, Minor’s attorney. “He’ll be all right.”

    Minor faced, at minimum, a 28-year sentence if found guilty, Caudill said. “All in all, it worked out for him.”

    He will be credited for time served at Central Virginia Regional Jail and will remain there until he is assigned to a state prison, Haislip said.

    Posted by Nancy at 10:30 AM | Comments (0)

    Part-time music teacher to face sex abuse charges

    ST. PAUL -- A man who taught music part-time at St. Paul Elementary school faces sex abuse charges this morning.

    He turned himself into Marion County deputies earlier this week. He's charged with five counts of sexually abusing a child.

    The child is someone who lives in his home in St. Paul.

    The superintendent of the school district says he does not think any of the students were abused because he was always supervised.

    Bruce Shull St. Paul Superintendent said the school was devastated by the news, and is waiting the hear the outcome.

    Posted by Nancy at 10:17 AM | Comments (0)

    Child abuse on the rise

    January 21, 2005 [Northern Territory News] Australia
    By Rebecca Hewett

    The NT has the second-highest rate of child abuse in the country with substantiated cases leaping 60 per cent in the past year, a national study has found.

    The study, conducted by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, found the number of cases in the NT increased from 327 in the 12 months from 2002-03 to 527 in 2003-04 year -- Australia's second-highest rate per 1000 children.

    Queensland had the highest rate, with 14 children per 1000 affected.

    In the NT, the rate was 8.7 children per 1000.

    But the NT had the highest number of children on protection orders -- 5.8 per 1000 compared to 5.4 in Tasmania.

    The number of reported but not substantiated abuse cases increased by 25 per cent in 2003-04.

    The study defined child abuse as neglect, physical, sexual or emotional abuse.

    Spokesman for the Family and Community Services Advisory Council Barry Hansen said the jump could be due to many factors.

    "It could be that there has been a genuine increase in actual cases, or there could simply have been an increase in reporting because there's greater attention on it now," Mr Hansen said.

    "Thirdly it could be an aberration. But no increase in substantiated cases is desirable," he said.

    The NT was unusual in that most children involved in substantiated cases of child abuse came from two parent families.

    In Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory most were from single parent families.

    Physical abuse was the most common form of child abuse in the NT, accounting for 38 per cent of substantiated cases, where emotional abuse and neglect figured highly in other states and territories.

    The study found children aged one to four were most likely to be taken into care in the NT.

    Girls were more vulnerable than boys, with 191 girls placed under care and protection orders in 2003-04 compared to 153 boys.

    Police were the group most likely to report abuse.

    Posted by Nancy at 10:10 AM | Comments (0)

    Chilling account of abuse

    Dad's narrative tells of repeated violence that led to a girl's death
    January 20, 2005 Ruth Rendon [Houston Chronicle]

    LEAGUE CITY - A couple of hours after taking his unconscious 2-year-old daughter to a hospital, Frank Padilla calmly and methodically demonstrated to a police detective how he hit the child in the stomach with a closed fist because she wet her pants.

    In a 45-minute videotaped interview the evening of Aug. 8, 2003, Padilla sat slumped in a conference-room chair recalling the events that led to the eventual death of Linda Gloria Padilla.

    "I need to know how it is your little girl ended up in the hospital," League City police Detective Marty Grant told Padilla under questioning at the League City Police Department. "The little girl can't tell us or the doctors what's wrong with her. Her little body is screaming what has been done to her."

    At first, Padilla said the child had suffered a large bruise on her forehead after she fell off a kitchen counter as he tried to wash her hands a couple of weeks earlier.

    In the taped interview, which was to be the focal point of Padilla's capital murder trial next month, the man then admitted to punching his daughter in the stomach, slapping her on the face and head and sexually assaulting her.

    Padilla, 46, pleaded guilty earlier this month to capital murder and two counts of aggravated sexual assault and was assessed three life sentences. He likely will serve 70 years before being eligible for parole. He could have faced the death penalty had he gone to trial and been convicted.

    Linda Padilla's death highlighted flaws in a state child-abuse hot line system. Two months before the girl died, a pizza delivery man called the hot line after seeing the little girl with a black eye. Frank Padilla was trying to hide her from the deliveryman when he brought a pizza to the family's League City apartment, the deliveryman said.

    After hitting her two to three times in the stomach, Padilla said he got scared and drove his daughter to Christus St. John Hospital in Nassau Bay. She later was transferred to Memorial Hermann Hospital's pediatric intensive care unit. The girl died Aug. 13 after being taken off life support.

    An autopsy showed she had a broken pelvis, broken ribs, a fractured skull and bruises all over her body.

    While at the hospital, Padilla patiently waited his turn for care while he held the girl as if she were sleeping against his shoulder, an emergency-room doctor told the Chronicle. It wasn't until he answered all of the admitting nurses' questions and placed his daughter on a scale to weigh her that hospital personnel realized the severity of the girl's injuries.

    During the interview with police, Padilla never asked how his daughter was doing.

    "Just be honest," Grant encouraged Padilla while questioning him.

    With his arms folded, Padilla told Grant that the girl's lack of ability to control her bladder would sometimes cause him to lose his temper.

    "I've been trying to train her for months," he said. "Sometimes I spank her. I don't intend to hurt her."

    While being prodded by Grant, Padilla acknowledged that he would hit the child with his hand and leave his handprint on the girl's bottom. Padilla, however, said he was not sure whether her bruises were the result of his hitting her.

    'I lose my temper'

    At one point in the interview, Padilla said he needed help. "I need to control my temper. I lose my temper with my daughter."

    Then Padilla told Grant how he jabbed the girl after she urinated on herself the afternoon of Aug. 8.

    "I punched her a couple of times in the stomach," he said. "But I didn't think it would cause any problems. She'd been crying all day. She peed and didn't tell us. I got mad."

    Grant asked Padilla to demonstrate how hard he had hit his daughter. With a closed fist, Padilla slammed his fist on the conference room table, causing it to bounce. Throughout the interview, Grant asked Padilla to demonstrate how hard he hit the girl, and each time he slammed the table. Each time the table bounced.

    On a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the worst, Grant asked Padilla to rank his anger when he struck his daughter. The man rated himself at a 7.

    Padilla said after he punched his daughter in the stomach, the girl vomited and fell over.

    An autopsy conducted on the child would show that the punches to her stomach broke her ribs, Grant said.

    "I didn't mean to hurt her in any way," Padilla said.

    During the violent abuse that day, the girl's mother, Magdalena Padilla, 33, was working at a Wal-Mart in Kemah. She is charged with injury to a child by omission. No trial date has been set although prosecutors expect to resolve the case by year's end.

    Grant asked Padilla whether his daughter was scared. His response: "Probably."

    Padilla also divulged that he had slapped his daughter on the face and the side of the head after she wet her panties.

    With the same force he demonstrated with a closed fist, Padilla slammed his open hand on the table to show how hard he had slapped the girl about seven or eight times. The slapping gave the girl two black eyes, Grant said.

    At one point in the interview, Grant, the father of two young children, left the room. The veteran officer said he had to calm down. Officers watching the interview in another room along with Grant went through stress debriefing after the interview.

    "It was hard on us. It still is," Grant said.

    Grant said among the child's injuries was a footprint from her father on the small of her back. The force caused the child's pelvis to break, he said. "He basically stomped her."

    The child also had signs of being shaken based on the severe hemorrhaging in her eyes, Grant said.

    Treatment became rougher

    After Grant re-entered the conference room, Padilla said, "I didn't intend to do anything. I thought she was passed out because she was tired. The last two weeks I've been rougher than I used to.

    "I know I'm a little rougher than I should," he said. "Every time this happens, it gets worse. I think about it, but at the same time I have anger inside of me and I wanted to release it. I really lost my temper for real this time. When I saw she wasn't waking up, I said, 'Come on, baby. Wake up. Don't do this to me.' "

    Padilla has three children from a previous marriage. They live with his ex-wife.

    He said he wanted Linda Padilla to have a normal life.

    "I'm not a child abuser or a child molester," he said. "I was always trying to be a good father."

    Posted by Nancy at 12:16 AM | Comments (0)

    Interviews show aides complained repeatedly about alleged abuse

    January 21, 2005 [Associated Press]

    SANFORD, Fla. - Teacher's aides at a central Florida middle school complained several times over five years that a special needs teacher was abusing autistic students, an investigator's interviews showed.

    The four aides told John Byerly, a Seminole County school district investigator, that they saw incidents of abuse and reported several to administrators at South Seminole Middle School. But their complaints about veteran teacher Kathleen Garrett, 48, seemed to be ignored, the aides said.

    "It was only my word against hers and nothing was done, so I stopped saying anything about it," said Sabrina Mort, an aide in Garrett's room for three years.

    Garrett, 48, has pleaded not guilty to five counts of child abuse, for which she faces up to 75 years in prison if convicted. She was arrested in November after Mort and another aide in the classroom made one more try and complained to Robin Dehlinger, the school's new principal. Dehlinger called authorities.

    The charges against Garrett include breaking one student's teeth, locking another in a dark closet, and abusing three others by hitting them, bending back their fingers and jabbing them with her elbows.

    Garrett has resigned, and the Florida Department of Education is investigating whether to revoke her teaching certificate.

    The four aides were suspended with pay pending an investigation, which is ongoing.

    Posted by Nancy at 12:10 AM | Comments (0)

    January 20, 2005

    Stepfather Will Serve 50-60 Years In Toddler's Death

    Brianna Pope Died After Repeated Abuse
    January 2005

    Omaha, NB - A Douglas County district judge said during Leonard Burk's sentencing Wednesday that it's probably the worst case of child abuse he's ever seen.

    Burks was sentenced for killing his 3-year-old stepdaughter, Brianna Pope. Pope died of injuries suffered from repeated beatings by Burks in May 2003.

    Burks apologized to the families involved and asked the court for mercy. He hung his head as he left the courtroom.

    The state recommended he get 30 to 50 years in prison. Judge Robert Burkhard said he didn't think that was enough, and sentenced Burks to 50 to 60 years.

    Mr. Burks, you're going away for a long time. At least, you're alive. She isn't," Burkhard said.

    "I'm glad to see he gave him more than what the state recommended, but it still doesn't fix the system," said Pope's grandfather, Dennis Huggin. "The cries for help were there. They were comin' from all over the place -- the church, from us, from everyone."

    Pope's death was one of the cases that prompted a state task force to investigate Nebraska's child welfare system. Last year, that task force proposed a list of changes to the governor.

    Posted by Nancy at 07:44 PM | Comments (0)

    Background checks considered for Peters coaches

    January 19, 2005 [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]
    By Mary Niederberger

    Coaches in youth leagues in Peters will be required to get state police criminal background checks and Pennsylvania child abuse history clearances if the parks and recreation board gives official approval to the idea at its meeting tomorrow night.

    It appears the township would become the first in that area to require such checks of coaches in township youth leagues, said Recreation Director Ed Figas. Figas said he polled other area municipalities and could find no others requiring the checks.

    The Diocese of Pittsburgh has required the criminal history check and child abuse clearances for the past several years for coaches at its schools.

    During a joint meeting between Peters council and its parks and recreation board members Monday, council members outlined why they wanted the checks required and recreation board members gave reasons for their hesitation to require both.

    Board members did not object to requiring a child abuse history clearance, but said they weren't comfortable requiring a criminal history background check because they didn't want to be placed in the position of determining which crimes from an individual's past should disqualify them from coaching.

    Councilman Michael Neville, the most vocal proponent of requiring the checks, said those decisions could be made by parks and recreation staff members and not by the appointed board members.

    Neville has long argued that the checks are necessary to protect children and to protect the municipality from liability.

    He said a person had to first get a state police criminal history check before he could apply for child abuse clearance.

    Figas said the parks and recreation department would not keep the criminal history reports on file. He said prospective coaches would be required to show the criminal record check forms they receive back from the state police and the child abuse clearances they receive from the state Department of Welfare to the designated parks and recreation staff member.

    If there is a crime on the criminal history report, then the parks and recreation staff will determine if it's a crime that would affect the individual's ability to coach.

    But that information would never be released publicly, Figas said. The only document that will be released to the sports leagues would be a list of approved coaches.

    Figas said parks and recreation staff members would meet with the township solicitor to come up with criteria that will determine which crimes would prohibit someone from becoming a coach.

    Posted by Nancy at 07:39 PM | Comments (0)

    Panel Begins Hearings Into Child Abuse Cases

    Hearings Prompted By Recent Cases
    January 18, 2005 [Associated Press] [KOIN]

    SALEM, Ore. -- A legislative panel in Salem began hearings Monday into a child protection system that one lawmaker said suffers from "an alarming problem."
    The state's top child protection official said the program is struggling to keep up with a rising number of child abuse and neglect cases fueled in large part by Oregon's methamphetamine epidemic.

    The committee is looking for ways to avoid a repeat of two high-profile cases that have put a spotlight on the department's child protection efforts.

    Last month, officials found a 5-year-old girl in a foster home near Sandy weighing a mere 28 pounds. The foster parents face charges of child abuse.

    A week later, a 15-month-old boy died of head injuries after the state returned him to his birth mother as part of a state-supervised plan to reunite the family.

    Posted by Nancy at 07:35 PM | Comments (0)

    Salvas pleads guilty in child's death

    January 20, 2005 [Rapid City Journal] By Vicky Wicks

    RAPID CITY — Raymond Salvas pleaded guilty Wednesday to second-degree manslaughter in the Aug. 1 death of his daughter, and in exchange, the prosecution agreed to drop all other charges, including vehicular homicide and child abuse.

    Salvas, 34, admitted in 7th Circuit Court to having "a couple of beers" before getting into his vehicle with two children, his 3-year-old daughter, Hanna Salvas, and his 7-year-old stepson, Casey Engelien.

    With the children's mother, Jennifer Salvas, sitting in the courtroom behind him, the defendant stood before Judge Janine Kern and said that on Aug. 1, "I had my kids at the beach" and "had a couple of beers" before driving. Salvas admitted he was "probably driving too fast for the corner I was going into" and said he "had an accident."

    When Kern asked who was in the vehicle with him, Salvas choked up when trying to say his daughter's name and was barely intelligible when he said he didn't remember if he put the children in car seats.

    Kern told Salvas to sit at the defense table and put the microphone in front of him, and Salvas then sat and rocked forward and back with his arms wrapped around his midsection.

    In response to Kern's continued questions to establish a factual basis for his plea, Salvas said he wasn't sure how fast he was going before the accident but guessed his speed was 40 mph. "I was distracted, and I took my eyes off the road," Salvas said. "When I looked up, I must have overcorrected."

    Lara Roetzel, chief deputy Pennington County state's attorney, said an accident reconstruction report put Salvas' speed at 44 mph in a 35 mph zone.

    Law enforcement reports have established that the accident happened on Sheridan Lake Road when Salvas' pickup truck apparently missed a curve and ran along a rock wall and into ditches before hitting a tree.

    Salvas and his daughter were ejected from the vehicle, and Engelien was injured in the accident. Neither child was restrained by a car seat or safety belt, according to reports.

    Originally set as a motions hearing at 1 p.m., Salvas' Wednesday appearance was delayed by half an hour while the state located Jennifer Salvas to be present when the defendant pleaded guilty.

    During the hearing, Kern asked Roetzel if the victim's family was in agreement with the plea bargain, and Roetzel said the child's mother "believes this is an appropriate resolution to this case."

    Salvas' attorney, Scott Armstrong, established the plea agreement for the record, which included that the state agreed to cap its recommendation for penitentiary time at eight years. Armstrong noted that both the state and defense asked Kern to agree to be bound by the recommendation, but Kern wanted to retain discretion.

    Kern told Salvas that he faces up to 10 years in the penitentiary and a $10,000 fine, the maximum sentence for second-degree manslaughter, a class 4 felony. She said he could also be ordered to pay court costs and restitution, including $2,728.94 paid by South Dakota Crime Victims' Compensation Program for Hanna Salvas' funeral.

    As part of the plea agreement, Roetzel said, the state dismissed vehicular homicide, two counts of child abuse, driving under the influence, and reckless driving charges from the Aug. 1 accident, as well as driving under the influence, possession of controlled substance, and ingesting charges from a June 25 incident.

    Salvas' sentencing is set for Feb. 8

    Posted by Nancy at 07:29 PM | Comments (0)

    Two Florida Child Welfare Workers Fired

    January 20, 2005 [Associated Press]

    TAMPA, Fla. - Two child welfare workers were fired and a third was demoted after a 4-month-old child under their supervision was beaten to death, authorities said.

    Phoenix Jordan Parrish died last month in Dothan, Ala., after his mother banged his head against a bed to stop him from crying, authorities said. Tierra Capri Gobble, 21, had been ordered by a court to stay away from the child.

    Hillsborough Kids Inc., a private agency that handles foster care and adoption for the state, said the three employees failed to monitor the child after he was taken out of state by his great-uncle, Edgar Parrish. The workers were not identified.

    Parrish, 41, had been trying to adopt Phoenix and his older sister, but he violated agreements with the agency when he moved out of state without permission, officials said.

    Gobble is charged with capital murder and domestic violence, while Parrish faces charges of aggravated child abuse and being an accomplice to capital murder.

    Posted by Nancy at 03:44 PM | Comments (0)

    Jury Panel Seated In Ex-Priest Sex Abuse Trial

    Testimony Scheduled To Begin Monday
    January 20, 2005 [Associated Press]

    Cambridge, Mass. -- A jury of eight men and eight women will hear the child rape case against former Catholic priest Paul Shanley, one of the most notorious figures in the clergy sex abuse scandal.

    Jury selection was completed Thursday afternoon and the 12 regular jurors and four alternates will hear opening statements from the lawyers on Monday in Middlesex Superior Court.

    Shanley, 73, is accused of child rape and indecent assault and battery on a child under 14. The alleged victim, now 27, says Shanley raped him repeatedly at St. Jean's parish in Newton between 1983 and 1989, beginning when he was 6 years old.

    Shanley, once a long-haired priest in blue jeans who reached out to Boston's troubled youth, was defrocked by the Vatican last year.

    His lawyer, Frank Mondano, has said he will argue that the accuser made up his story to win a monetary award in a civil lawsuit.

    Charges related to three other alleged victims have been dropped by prosecutors.

    Internal church documents showed church officials knew about allegations against Shanley as early as 1967 yet continued to transfer him from parish to parish.

    Posted by Nancy at 03:44 PM | Comments (0)

    Sentencing postponed for abusers of 6-year-old girl

    January, 19, 2005

    Fontana, CA - Sentencing was postponed on Wednesday for a Fontana man and his mother who kept a 6-year-old girl handcuffed to a table for 18 hours.

    Paul Kusaka, 33, pleaded guilty to child abuse Dec. 17 and agreed to a sentence of eight months in county jail.

    His mother, Ila Kusaka, admitted to child abuse and destroying evidence in exchange for a sentence of 180 days and probation.

    Prosecutors and Ila Kusaka's lawyer, however, disagreed on Wednesday about whether the woman had agreed to spend three or four years on probation.

    Judge Keith Davis ordered a court reporter to prepare a transcript of the Dec. 17 hearing to resolve the dispute and ordered everyone back to Fontana Superior Court on Feb. 16 for sentencing.

    Posted by Nancy at 03:38 PM | Comments (0)

    9 Jurors Seated For Ex-Priest Sex Abuse Trial

    January 20, 2005 [Associated Press]
    Cambridge, Mass. -- Nine jurors have been chosen for the child rape trial of defrocked priest Paul Shanley.

    Twelve regular jurors and four alternatives will hear the case against Shanley, one of the most notorious figures in the clergy sex abuse scandal. Testimony in the trial is scheduled to begin Monday in Middlesex Superior Court.

    Shanley, 73, is accused of child rape and indecent assault and battery on a child under 14.

    The alleged victim, now 27, says Shanley raped him repeatedly at St. Jean's parish in Newton between 1983 and 1989, beginning when he was six years old.

    Shanley, once a long-haired priest in blue jeans who reached out to Boston's troubled youth, was defrocked by the Vatican last year after being charged with sexually abusing four boys at St. Jean's between 1979 and 1989. Charges related to three of the alleged victims have been dropped by prosecutors.

    Shanley's lawyer, Frank Mondano, has said he will argue that the accuser made up his story to win a monetary award in a civil lawsuit.

    All of the alleged victims settled civil lawsuits with the Boston Archdiocese in April 2004. The exact monetary terms were not disclosed, but an attorney for the men has said each received more than $300,000.

    Internal church documents showed church officials knew about allegations against Shanley as early as 1967 yet continued to transfer him from parish to parish.

    After a second day of jury selection Wednesday, four women and five men had been chosen to sit on the jury. Jury selection was scheduled to resume Thursday.

    Posted by Nancy at 03:34 PM | Comments (0)

    Bishop Meets With Baldacci, Lawmakers; Offers Support For Child Abuse Laws

    January 19, 2005 [Associated Press]

    AUGUSTA, Maine -- Maine's Roman Catholic bishop is pledging support for tougher laws against child sexual abuse.

    Bishop Richard Malone told Gov. Baldacci and legislators Tuesday that such laws would help the church repair damage caused by abusive priests.

    He cited no specific legislation but noted that several bills being drafted would strengthen efforts of the state and the church to protect children.

    In his luncheon remarks, Malone did not tip his hand on the church's stance on a gay-rights bill that Baldacci is expected to propose later this year. But Malone did say he would oppose same-sex marriage, push for improved health care for the poor and try to add a moral dimension to State House debates.

    Posted by Nancy at 03:28 PM | Comments (0)

    Lebanon couple's child abuse case goes to court

    January 20, 2005 Lebanon, TN [News 2]

    An arraignment is scheduled Thursday for a Wilson County couple accused of chaining their 15-year-old son to a bed and starving him.

    James and Christine Osbourne's son Josh weighed only 50 pounds when police removed him from their home. The Osbourne's say the boy was so small due to a heart surgery earlier in life. A grand jury is deciding whether of not the couple will be charged, and on what counts.

    Posted by Nancy at 03:24 PM | Comments (0)

    Child abuse: how to prevent it

    January 20, 2005 [Daily Globe] Ironwood, MI
    By Margaret Levra

    Sexual predators may come disguised as neighbors, friends or even relatives, and parents should discuss the "what-ifs" with their children.

    "There are many 'good touch, bad touch situations out there,' said Iron County District Attorney Marty Lipske. "You should discuss with family members on a regular basis if someone is having bad contact with them, because our best source of finding these offenders would be through their discussions."

    Lipske advises parents to have a family photo album available during the discussions. "Perhaps of friends and family. Show these pictures to your children."

    Families need to talk about possible sexual assaults. "That is what families need to talk about...if it happens to them," he said.

    "The quicker we professionally deal with the issue, the better chance we have to stop the cycle."

    According to statistics, one in four girls and one in about six boys will be victims of sexual assault during their childhoods.

    About 92 percent of those sexually assaulted know the offender, he added.

    Lipske said a large number of the sexually assaulted later become predators.

    Parents should also be concerned about use of computers by their children.

    "Who's watching you on the Internet? Chatrooms may be a dangerous place to go," Lipske said. "When your child is chatting with someone on the Internet, do you know who's on the other end?" Lipske asked.

    He said his department is reviewing "more and more computer issues."

    Sexual assaults not only have a detrimental effect on victims, but also weigh heavy on families, friends and others who come into contact with the victims.

    "For a child, coping begins with the telling -- the report of the abuse to a trusted adult," said Carolyn Kolson-Janov, director of the Iron County Human Services Department.

    The response to the report is critical, she said. "If the child is believed, and is not made to feel guilt or shame, healing may begin."

    The support of family members and counseling with a trained professional are also extremely important, she said. The level of the child's involvement in the criminal court process should correspond with his or her age and level of maturity, Kolson-Janov noted.

    To help a child victim cope with his or her trauma, it is important to accurately understand the impact child sexual abuse has on a molested child, Kolson-Janov said.

    "Guilt and shame eat away at self-esteem. Keeping the secret about the abuse is part of the trauma and contributes to lowered self-esteem, and hence, depression," she noted.

    "Other mood disturbances are also prevalent in child victims -- panic attacks, anxiety disorders and personality disorders," she said, noting child victims are also much more likely to suffer from drug and alcohol addictions, and are at significant risk of suicide.

    It is unlikely a young victim will survive sexual abuse unscathed, Kolson-Janov said, adding, "It is vital that resources be dedicated to the prevention of child sexual abuse.

    "Current child sexual abuse prevention strategies require children to be in charge of their own protection. They are taught about 'good-touch, bad-touch,' told to say 'no' to those who try to harm them, are asked to relay this information to trusted adults, and are instructed to keep telling until they are believed," Kolson-Janov said.

    Rather than relying on children to be the principal line of defense, "It is time for adults to take over the job of protecting children by no longer giving molesters access to the children," she said.

    To protect children, "Parents must learn to understand molesters and recognize their methods," Kolson-Janov said.

    "Parents and teachers need to learn how to recognize the processes utilized by molesters to lull adults into compliance, and groom their potential victims."

    Posted by Nancy at 03:20 PM | Comments (0)

    Layton Grandmother May Face Child Abuse Charges

    January 19, 2005 Layton, UT

    A Layton grandmother whose grandson was falsely pronounced dead, could face child abuse charges. Earlier this month, the 4-year old boy was found unconscious in a bathtub. He was declared dead at the hospital, but was later found to be breathing. Police began investigating because the boy had old burn wounds.

    Craig Gibson/Layton Asst. Police Chief: "We're very happy the little boy is doing much beter, but we're also concerned about his care"

    Police have not arrested the grandmother, but prosecutors are screening the case.

    Posted by Nancy at 03:15 PM | Comments (0)

    Derry child abuse principal resigns

    Former headmaster admits 29 sex offences
    January 20, 2005 [Belfast Telegraph]
    By Brendan McDaid

    A Londonderry headmaster who admitted a litany of sex offences against underage boys has resigned from his post, education chiefs today confirmed

    The Council for Catholic Maintained Schools this week began its search for a new principal to replace Jude Lynch (44), at the Good Shepherd Primary School on Dungiven Road.

    Lynch tendered his resignation after pleading guilty to 29 sex offences against three underage boys in the Ballymena area and Belfast.

    The former principal, from Learmount Road in the Park area of Co Derry, confessed to a string of indecent assaults and gross indecency offences against three males, all under 17 years of age.

    In October, Lynch was released on bail at Antrim Crown Court pending sentence, and his name added to the sex offenders' register.

    It was made clear in court that none of the victims had ever attended the Good Shepherd school.

    The former principal was suspended from his job while the case against him proceeded.

    The Deputy Chief Executive for the Council for Catholic Mantained Schools, Jim Clarke, however, today confirmed Lynch had tendered his resignation immediately after entering his guilty plea to the charges.

    "What we have done now is advertise for a new principal," Mr Clarke said.

    Lynch's litany of offences occurred in the Ballymena area and in Belfast, between September 2002 and May 2003.

    Speaking during the hearing in October, Judge David Smyth said it was a "serious case . . . with possibly a number of aggravating features".

    He added that Victim Impact Reports would need to be prepared.

    The case was adjourned for mention on a date to be fixed, and a date for sentencing has also yet to be set.

    In addition, Lynch has pleaded guilty to numerous counts of indecent assault, and gross indecency.

    He has also pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and abetting indecent assault, two counts of aiding and abetting gross indecency with a child, one count of attempted buggery and one count of inciting gross indecency with a child.

    Lynch is due back in court for sentence

    Posted by Nancy at 03:11 PM | Comments (0)

    January 19, 2005

    Meth boosts child-protection needs

    Health and Welfare seeks budget increase
    January 19, 2005 [Spokesman Review]
    Betsy Z. Russell Staff writer

    BOISE – Idaho's child-protection caseload is up 25 percent from a year ago, mainly because of parents who are abusing methamphetamine.

    "You cannot use methamphetamine and be a parent – it just doesn't work," Magistrate Judge Bryan Murray told legislative budget writers this week. "They cannot deal with the needs of their children. Children are at extreme risk where they are in a home with methamphetamine being used."

    Murray and other law-enforcement and state officials painted for lawmakers a frightening picture of the world of children whose parents abuse the drug. And while there are increasing numbers of substantiated child abuse and neglect cases in the state, the state Health and Welfare Department hasn't increased its number of child-protection workers since 1992.

    The department now wants to add 15 child-protection workers – one of an array of proposals for additional staff in its budget request for next year.

    "In our view, the consequences of not funding the child protection program at a level equivalent to the need ultimately will place children at risk," Ken Diebert, administrator of family and community services for Health and Welfare, told the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee.

    Lawmakers were chilled by the presentation, part of a weeklong series on the inner workings of the huge Health and Welfare Department, the state's largest agency.

    "It's distressing to hear the individual stories of the cases that are happening out there," said Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint, vice chairwoman of the joint committee. "Our job is to make sure that the resources we are utilizing are going where they need to go, and assessing the need for additional resources and where they're going to come from."

    Keough said that before she knows if the new workers should be added, "I need some more information." For example, department officials said they hold some positions vacant to move the funding into benefit payments.

    New Senate Health and Welfare Committee Chairman Dick Compton, R-Coeur d'Alene, sat front and center for the budget hearing, along with his House counterpart, Rep. Sharon Block, R-Twin Falls, chairwoman of the House Health and Welfare Committee.

    "It's scary, it's absolutely scary," Compton said of the picture officials painted of drug-abusing parents. "It's beyond criminal. It's one thing if they screw up their own lives, poison their own minds, but it's another thing to screw up the lives of these youngsters."

    Col. Dan Charboneau, director of the Idaho State Police, told the story of a young girl who was afraid to go home after school, so she brought a friend. The friend saw several children caring for one another in an unkempt environment with no food, and told her parents. Child-protection officials then discovered five children in the home unattended, and a sixth duct-taped to a post in a crawl space as part of punishment from the parents. Large quantities of drugs were found.

    Charboneau also shared another story about state police officers who were readying a meth lab bust and observed a young boy in a skeleton costume periodically running up and down the street. They thought the youngster might be watching for the police. But when they went in, they found the parents passed out on the couch.

    The child had dressed himself for a school Halloween party in the costume, but wore no shoes, socks or underwear. He told police he'd been running up and down the street trying to catch the school bus.

    Posted by Nancy at 10:29 AM | Comments (0)

    Accuser dropped in priest abuse trial

    January 19, 2005 [Associated Press]

    CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) - Prosecutors dropped an accuser from the criminal case against former priest Paul Shanley, leaving just one alleged victim to testify in the trial that began Tuesday for one of the most notorious figures in the clergy sex abuse scandal.

    Prosecutors already had dropped two other accusers from the case, and they removed the third because they have been unable to find him since a hearing in October when he had difficulty remaining composed to testify. The move to drop him from the case was expected.

    The witness' removal leaves Shanley, 73, facing three charges of raping a child and two charges of indecent assault and battery on a child. The maximum sentence would be life in prison.

    About 80 prospective jurors were questioned Tuesday for the trial that is expected to last about two weeks. Four jurors - three men and one woman - were seated by midafternoon.

    Shanley's lawyer has made it clear he will argue that the lone remaining accuser made up his story of abuse to win a monetary award in a civil lawsuit.

    Posted by Nancy at 10:18 AM | Comments (0)

    Yemen opens eyes to prevalence of child trafficking

    January 19, 2005 [The Washington Times] By Peter Willems

    SAN''A, Yemen -- A two-day workshop based on the first study of child trafficking in Yemen was held last weekend, representing the first public admission that children are being sent to Saudi Arabia to support their families and thus exposed to abuse.

    Awareness of the issue has grown in the past year, but it has provoked disagreement about the magnitude of the problem and how many youngsters working north of the border should be considered trafficked children.

    "We have fully acknowledged that this is a problem for us and appears to be growing," said Ramesh Shrestha, a Yemen-based representative of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), speaking at the opening of the forum, which brought government ministers and representatives of aid organizations together Saturday and Sunday.

    "There are different issues on the definition of trafficking," he said. "Whether or not it is trafficking or illegal immigration, and there are different numbers for children being trafficked, but the basic fact is that there is a problem."

    The study by Yemen's Social Affairs Ministry and UNICEF was carried out in Hajja and al Mahweet, two provinces thought to be primary sources of child trafficking, and was based on interviews and group discussions with victims, families, traffickers and government authorities.

    The information gathered showed that more than 25 percent of children interviewed faced risks to their well-being, including going hungry and getting lost. The study found that some died during the journey to Saudi Arabia, and many said they had been robbed or beaten and abused by security officials. In addition, nearly 65 percent of the children trafficked did not have a place to stay and ended up living on the streets.

    The most common ways of earning money by Yemeni children abroad are begging or becoming street vendors.

    Research teams were not able to carry out a full assessment of sexual exploitation. But according to a woman interviewed in the survey, "Children were sexually abused even by the traffickers themselves and before they got into Saudi Arabia."

    One of the reasons that child trafficking has become a lucrative business in Yemen is that many families are unaware of the hardships that their children may encounter. Most parents involved in the study said they saw no difference between child trafficking and illegal immigration to boost a family's income, and most were willing to pay a trafficker to make it possible.

    The major cause of child trafficking in Yemen is poverty.

    "Child trafficking is one of the bad symptoms of people suffering from poverty," said Amat al-Aleem al-Soswa, Yemen's U.S.-educated human rights minister. "If the families happened to be well-off, the parents would not have let their children go to another place and be vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. It is poverty, and we should fight it if we want a radical solution for this problem."

    In the World Bank's recent report on Yemen, the country's rise in gross domestic product slowed from 4.1 percent in 2001 to 2.5 percent last year. Economic expansion is not keeping up with Yemen's population growth, one of the highest in the world.

    The Population Reference Bureau, a private organization based in the United States, estimates that Yemen's population grows about 4 percent annually. Forty-two percent of Yemenis live below the poverty line, and the percentage is expected to rise unless the government hastens economic reforms.

    The child-trafficking study shows that more than 60 percent of the children sent abroad are from families with eight or more members and that most of these families survive on less than $108 per month. Families said sending children to work increased income dramatically, sometimes doubling their family income.

    "Saying that raising awareness in communities can solve the problem is probably not accurate," Mr. Shrestha said. "People will become aware that it is bad, but other compelling reasons -- like economic hardship -- might motivate families not to take action against child trafficking. Children sending money back to their families living in the poorer areas near the border might continue."

    Posted by Nancy at 10:12 AM | Comments (0)

    Family, Friends Say Goodbye To Suspected Child Abuse Victim

    January 19, 2005 San Antonio

    About 100 people packed a Catholic church Tuesday on the Southeast Side to pay their last respects to a 1-year-old girl who police say died suspiciously.

    Four girls carried a 3-foot-long casket bearing the body of 1-year-old Clarissa Ramos into St. Margaret Mary's Catholic Church for a funeral mass.

    "She was so cute," said Roxanne, the baby's cousin. "She was always so happy. She was barely learning how to walk and talk. She was really, really beautiful."

    Many people at the funeral had a hard time understanding why Clarissa died the way she did.

    The Bexar County Medical Examiner's Office ruled her death a homicide and the San Antonio Police Department are investigating the case as a capital murder. No arrests have been made in the case.

    The girl's mother, Sindy Riojas, told KSAT 12 News she went shopping and left Clarissa in the care of her boyfriend, Robert Hernandez, the day the baby was taken to a hospital. Hernandez claimed the baby, who died of massive head injuries and other injuries, fell from a playpen.

    "I just can't understand those kind of people," said Aurora Adam, a family friend. "A child is a child, and we need to protect them and take care of them as much as we can."

    Clarissa's 4-year-old sister is the custody of Child Protective Services while the case is investigated.

    Posted by Nancy at 10:03 AM | Comments (0)

    Fugitive sex-abuse suspect held

    January 19, 2005 [Reading Eagle News Staff] Berks Country, PA

    A Berks County fugitive wanted for sexual abuse of a child was apprehended Tuesday night by U.S. Customs & Border Protection agents from the Department of Homeland Security at a bus station in San Diego near the Mexican border, officials said.

    Richard T. Balsavage, 24, whose last known address was in Hereford Township, was arrested after agents learned he was wanted by the Pennsylvania state police.

    Troopers got an arrest warrant for Balsavage from District Justice Wally Scott in March and entered his name into the FBI's National Crime Information Center after he fled Berks County. He had been sought ever since.

    State police said Balsavage took pictures of a 2-year-old boy in sexually explicit poses about three years ago in Kutztown.

    The pictures were discovered last year at a residence where Balsavage had been living in the 400 block of Klines Corner Road, police said.

    State police Cpl. Douglas J. Bendetti said Balsavage will be returned to Berks County to face charges of sexual abuse of a child and related offenses.

    Posted by Nancy at 09:54 AM | Comments (0)

    Tenn. high court OKs abuse lawsuit

    January 19, 2005 [Associated Press]

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – The state Supreme Court says a $68 million lawsuit alleging that the Roman Catholic diocese of Nashville covered up child sex abuse by a former priest can go forward.

    The unanimous ruling issued Tuesday overturns lower courts which had said the diocese could not be held responsible for the emotional distress alleged by the plaintiffs.

    The high court in its ruling said a defendant can be found guilty of inflicting emotional distress even if its misconduct was not directed at a specific person. The court said its decision broke new legal ground in such cases.

    Posted by Nancy at 09:43 AM | Comments (0)

    Commission makes U-turn on abuse testimony decision

    January 19, 2004 Ireland

    The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse is to reverse its decision to only hear testimony from a sample of the abuse victims who have come forward to the inquiry.

    The Commission decided last year that it could not hear testimony from all of the 1,300 people who have made abuse allegations because it would be too costly and time-consuming.

    However, reports this morning said it had now announced all the alleged victims would be interviewed by a legal team, which would then decide what cases to send forward for full hearings.

    The Commission was established to investigate allegations of widespread child abuse at state-run institutions like schools and orphanages.

    Posted by Nancy at 09:40 AM | Comments (0)

    4 Jurors Seated In Priest Sex Abuse Trial

    Potential Jurors Asked About Homosexuality, Church

    January 19, 2005 [Associated Press]

    CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Four jurors have been seated so far to hear the child rape case against Paul Shanley, a key figure in Boston's clergy sex abuse crisis.

    A man and a woman were the first chosen from a pool of about 80 people in Middlesex Superior Court Tuesday. Two other men were chosen later in the day.

    Judge Stephen Neel is asking potential jurors if they have been sexually abused; their views on homosexuality; and their feelings about the Catholic Church and the Boston Archdiocese in particular.

    Among the jurors selected was a man who is Catholic and does landscaping at his church.

    Jury selection will resume Wednesday morning.

    Prosecutors formally dropped one more of Shanley's accusers from the case Tuesday because the man can't be found.

    That leaves just one 27-year-old man to testify against the defrocked priest who's charged with molesting four boys in the 1980s at Newton's Saint Jean Parish.

    Posted by Nancy at 09:32 AM | Comments (0)

    State's high child abuse

    January 19, 2005 By Heather Low Choy

    ALMOST half Tasmania's substantiated child-abuse cases involve children in intact two-parent families, a new report shows. Substantiated child abuse is where there is reasonable cause to believe harm has occurred.

    Children living in traditional family units account for more of these cases in Tasmania than in any other family situation, Child Protection Australia 2003-04 reveals.

    The report, released yesterday, shows 44 per cent of the state's substantiated abuse cases in the 2003-04 financial year involved children from intact families.

    However, the abuse did not occur within the family in all cases.

    The report was compiled by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare using data from community service departments.

    Neglect was the most common form of abuse in Tasmania, accounting for more cases than physical, sexual or emotional abuse.

    Forty per cent of cases involved neglect, 33 per cent physical abuse, 18 per cent sexual and nine per cent emotional abuse.

    Tasmanian cases doubled to 427 in 2003-04, as documented in last year's Department of Health and Human Services annual report.

    Deputy Premier David Llewellyn said that since February 2003 an extra 39 positions had been created in Child and Family Services.

    Indigenous children were the subject of child-protection substantiations up to 10 times the rate of other children.

    Anyone with concerns about a child's welfare can phone 1 300 737 639

    Posted by Nancy at 09:27 AM | Comments (0)

    Church says former bishop accused of child sexual abuse

    January 19, 2005 [Associated Press]

    DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) - A former bishop of the Sioux City Roman Catholic diocese was accused of child sex abuse when he was a priest in the Davenport diocese, and the Davenport diocese reached a settlement with one of the accusers, church officials said.

    A report issued Tuesday by Davenport Bishop William Franklin said that there were three allegations against retired Sioux City Bishop Lawrence Soens and the diocese settled one of those allegations for $20,000 in October.

    Soens was the Sioux City diocese's fifth bishop, serving from 1983 to 1998.

    Soens' name did not surface publicly until now because no lawsuits were filed naming him, according to Patrick Noaker, an attorney for victims who as a group reached a $9 million settlement in October with the Davenport diocese.

    Sioux City diocese spokesman Jim Wharton defended Soens and said news of the allegations "shocks and saddens all of us."

    The Sioux City diocese never received complaints regarding sexual impropriety against Soens, Wharton said.

    "Soens' service as shepherd of the diocese was exemplary," Wharton said. "He is a special person who has dedicated his priesthood to working and caring for others. He is a prayerful, holy man, and the people of the diocese pray for him and those who make these allegations."

    Timothy Bottaro, Soens' attorney, said that Soens has denied the allegations, but that since the matter is now before church authorities, he can make no comment.

    Tuesday's report summarized the Davenport diocese's investigation of sexual abuse in the past year.

    It is the first time in Iowa that a bishop has been publicly accused of abuse in connection with the scandal that has exposed decades of abuse of minors by clergy.

    Soens served at Davenport diocese parishes in Burlington, Victor, Charlotte and Clinton. He was an administrator at Regina High School in Iowa City, on the faculty of St. Ambrose Academy, and served as rector and on the faculty of St. Ambrose College in Davenport before becoming a bishop.

    Franklin issued the report as a summary of child sexual abuse that the diocese has received since its last report on Feb. 25, 2004. An allegation against Soens was noted in that report, although he was not named. Two additional allegations against him surfaced in the past year.

    The Davenport Diocese reported and the Sioux City Diocese confirmed that Soens is "completely retired and not involved in any capacity."

    Soens accompanied the Rev. Roger Augustine, administrator of the Diocese of Sioux City, on a November visit to the Vatican, where the U.S. bishops met privately with Pope John Paul II and members of various Vatican offices.

    Franklin said that he is in consultation with Catholic Church authorities for final resolution of the matter.

    Posted by Nancy at 09:23 AM | Comments (0)

    Child abuse referrals double

    January 19, 2005 Australia

    The number of suspected cases of child abuse, neglect or harm referred to Australian authorities has more than doubled in the past five years, new figures show.

    An Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report found the number of notifications increased from 198,355 in 2002/03 to 219,384 in the 2003/04 financial year.

    The latest figure represents a rise of 10.6 per cent on the previous year, but also shows notifications have more than doubled in the past five years, from 107,134 in 1999/2000.

    In addition, the number of cases where there was reasonable cause to believe that harm had occurred or would occur rose in all states and territories.

    Report co-author Susan Kelly from the AIHW's Children, Youth and Families Unit said some of this increase in notifications and substantiations reflected changes in child protection policies.

    "However, it is also an indication of a higher level of awareness of child protection concerns in the wider community and more willingness to report problems to child protection departments," she said.

    "Increased funding of child protection and community support services in general, and an increase in the number of child protection workers could also be contributing factors."

    The report found the number of children in out-of-home care in Australia rose by more than 3,000 cases over the last three years.

    The number of children either placed with relatives, or in foster or residential care, has increased from 18,241 in 2001 to 21,795 in June 2004.

    Since 1996, the number of children in care has increased by 56 per cent, with the increases occurring right across Australia.

    "About 94 per cent of all these children are living with relatives, foster carers or in some other home-based arrangement rather than in facilities such as family group homes or residential care," Ms Kelly said.

    It also showed rises in the number of children on care and protection orders in all of the states and territories.

    Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were over-represented in the child protection system.

    For children on care and protection orders, the indigenous rate was 11 times that of other children and up to 12 times the rate for children in out-of-home care.

    Posted by Nancy at 09:18 AM | Comments (0)

    January 18, 2005

    Neville calls for action on eating disorders

    January 2005 Ireland

    Fine Gael Deputy Spokesperson on Health and Children, Dan Neville TD has called on the Tánaiste and Minister for Health to recognise that eating disorders are a serious psychiatric illness with a 20% mortality rate.

    "Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric condition as evidenced by the Expert Group on Mental Health Policy report, Speaking Your Mind.

    "We must remember that eating disorders are not self-inflicted. They are complex disorders that have no one cause or cure. Addressing the problem involves coordinated efforts from school education programmes and public awareness and health promotion activities to professional training for health professionals and access to service provision at community, primary and inpatient level.

    "Some 1% to 2% of young females are affected by anorexia while 3% to 5% are affected by bulimia. It is estimated that 10% of new eating disorder cases are male. A recent community survey indicated an increase in the number of people engaging in inappropriate weight management behaviours such as laxative abuse and forced vomiting. These dangerous behaviours can lead to the development eating disorders. People with eating disorders can and do recover, 60% make a full recovery, but early intervention absolutely key.

    "The Minister must immediately introduce training on the management of eating disorders in each of the former Health Board Areas. A dedicated service should be delivered through outpatient and where necessary, in-patient care. There is a need for one member of personnel in each health board area, who will have a special interest post in psychiatry dealing with eating disorders.

    "There is a need for greater self-esteem building work and development of coping skills within the educational system. Campaigns promoting a proper diet and healthy eating need to be examined, and care must be taken that important messages relating specifically to eating disorders do not get lost in the midst of more recent discussions on obesity."

    Posted by Nancy at 06:51 PM | Comments (0)

    Eating disorder concerns voiced

    January 18, 2005

    The Scottish Executive has been accused of not doing enough to help people suffering from eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia. The Scottish chairwoman of the Royal College of Psychiatrists made the criticism in written evidence to Holyrood's health committee.

    Dr Denise Coia believes services are "woefully inadequate" and that no improvement has been made since 2001.

    The committee is meeting in the north east to hear evidence from campaigners.

    Eating disorders are an increasing problem in Scotland, with about 10% of young women affected by such conditions.

    They are becoming more widespread despite a report in 2001 which called on health chiefs to draw up plans to tackle the illness.

    The health committee is meeting in Stonehaven on Tuesday as part of an inquiry into eating disorders.

    Anorexia nervosa has the highest death rate of any psychiatric illness and is estimated to affect one in 100 women.

    Care centre

    The Eating Disorders Association complained in 2003 that fewer than 10% of patients were receiving treatment.

    Scotland's first specialist day care centre for young sufferers was opened that year at Gartnavel Hospital in Glasgow.

    The Scottish Executive said ministers welcomed the opportunity for the health committee to examine the subject.

    A spokesperson said: "Mental health, within which eating disorder services are usually provided, is one of the executive's three clinical priorities for NHS Scotland.

    Planning and delivery

    "We must recognise that NHS boards have to consider a large number of competing priorities in planning and resourcing services.

    "Ministers accept that there is still some way to go on the organisation and planning of eating disorders services and they have urged boards to collaborate on planning and delivery issues."

    The Deputy Minister for Health and Community Care, Rhona Brankin, will meet the health committee on 25 January.

    Posted by Nancy at 06:45 PM | Comments (0)

    Danger of eating disorders in teenage diabetes

    January 2005

    Teenage girls with type 1 diabetes who also have an eating disorder need to be identified to reduce risk of serious complications, according to UK research.

    Researchers followed the progress of 87 teenage girls and young women with type 1 diabetes over a decade. Of the group 15 percent had a probable eating disorder, such as anorexia or bulimia, at some point during the study.

    In addition, more than one-third reported cutting back on their insulin in an effort to keep their weight in check, while others said they had vomited or used laxatives to achieve weight control.

    The study published in the journal Diabetes Care found that these problems become even more common in young adulthood compared with adolescence.

    The results showed that those with a history of eating disorders were five times more likely to suffer two or more diabetes complications.

    Those who had ever used unhealthy weight-control tactics or misused their insulin faced a similarly elevated risk of complications. During the study period six women died, two of whom had bulimia.

    Lead author Dr Robert Peveler at the University of Southampton, said that despite the importance of healthy habits in type 1 diabetes, some patients are able to disguise the fact that they have an eating disorder.

    He said: 'Surprisingly, some patients do manage it for a time. The deterioration in their health may be quite slow and therefore hard to spot.'

    The researchers called for better methods of detection and management of this group of patients.

    Reference: Peveler R The Relationship of Disordered Eating Habits and Attitudes to Clinical Outcomes in Young Adult Females With Type 1 Diabetes Diabetes Care 2005; 28: 84-88

    Posted by Nancy at 05:08 PM | Comments (0)

    Miami Filmmakers Announce Completion of “The ABC’s of Eating Disorders”, a Documentary Film About Eating Disorders

    New documentary reveals insight to life with an eating disorder. Documentary is available in time for National Eating Disorder Awareness Week February 27 – March 5

    January 18, 2005 [PRWEB] Miami, FL

    Miami filmmakers Joanna Popper and Arne Zimmermann completed “The ABC’s of Eating Disorders,” a documentary film on eating disorders. Anorexics, bulimics, and compulsive overeaters share their intimate experiences and struggles. The interviews captivate and allow the viewer into the mind of someone with an eating disorder.

    Eating disorders are epidemic in America. Dr Marty Lerner, of Milestones in Recovery who was interviewed in the documentary, estimated that 50% of women have eating disorders at some point in their lives, and almost as many men. He also estimated that at any given time 20-30% of the population is suffering from an eating disorder.

    Eating disorders have been largely misunderstood. Rather than being about food and weight as popularly thought, eating disorders are classified as a psychological disorder. Susan Kleinman of the Renfrew Center said, “Eating disorders have been misnamed. They really should have been called emotional disorders.” Alexis Todd from the Renfrew Center adds that “they are the deadliest of all psychological disorders.” The mortality rate associated with anorexia nervosa is 12 times higher than the death rate of all causes of death for females 15-24 years old.

    This program is new, exciting and different. The viewer sees real people candidly speaking about their eating disorders and experiences. It includes compulsive overeaters, which is often overlooked. The project focuses on mainstream cases of functional people, not just Hollywood stars or people who die. Interviews include a wide variety of people from different backgrounds, genders, ages and ethnic groups. This breadth allows diverse audiences to connect with the program.

    Producer Joanna Popper says, “The documentary was made to increase awareness on eating disorders, let people know they’re not alone, and encourage recovery. And, it helps people without eating disorders understand them.” She continues, “As Pro-anorexia internet sites increase, it’s important to have Pro-recovery materials in the public view. And the timing is perfect with the National Eating Disorder Awareness Week coming up in February.”

    The Producer, Editor and people who were interviewed in the documentary are available immediately for interviews and happy to talk about all topics.

    About the Producer and Zakto Film
    The Producer, Joanna Popper, has been an advocate for eating disorder treatment and recovery since seeking her own treatment three years ago. She was interviewed on the subject on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360°, New Times, and Spanish and Portuguese-language radio stations. She has spoken at University of Miami Delta Gamma sorority. Filmmaker Arne Zimmermann is the Founder of Zakto Film. Arne shot and edited “The ABC's of Eating Disorders.” www.zakto.com/abc

    For more information, view the trailer or to order the documentary email www.zakto.com/abc or email e-mail protected from spam bots.

    Posted by Nancy at 05:02 PM | Comments (0)

    Jury selection begins in abuse trial

    January 18, 2005 [Lincoln Star Journal]
    By Margaret Reist

    Jury selection began Tuesday in the child abuse trial of Brandy Blair, who is accused of leaving her 22-month-old child locked in an unairconditioned room for two days, where he died.

    Christian Reifler was electrocuted in June, apparently by a stapler stuck into an electrical outlet. Other residents living in the house at 1907 L St. found him and called authorities.

    Blair, 23, is charged with child abuse resulting in death, a crime that carries a penalty of 10 years to life in prison.

    Prosecutors have said the trial is expected to last about a week.

    A second felony child abuse charge, which was punishable by up to 20 years in prison, was dismissed by prosecutors at the end of last month.

    Court documents have alleged that Blair put her son in an upstairs bedroom on the evening of June 7, wedging a towel in the door so he couldn't open it and wander around the house, and didn't return until June 9.

    During those two days, according to the documents, she went out with friends, smoked meth and watched movies.

    Four other adults were living in the house at the time.

    According to the court documents, one of the residents gave Christian a glass of water on June 8, and Blair checked on him the morning of June 9, several hours before she left and the other residents found him.

    The autopsy showed Christian died of electrocution and was also dehydrated and emaciated, according to the documents.

    Three of the four people living in the house, including Blair's brother, have been charged with misdemeanor charges of either child abuse or failing to report child abuse.

    Posted by Nancy at 04:55 PM | Comments (0)

    Accused tells of decades of abuse

    January 18, 2005 Lisbon, Australia

    A FORMER driver for a Portuguese state-run institution at the centre of a pedophile trial, which has tainted top figures, told a court today he had over the years sexually abused 22 boys under his care.

    Carlos Silvino, who also stands accused of procuring minors for wealthy child molesters for more than two decades, apologised to the victims, but insisted he had remained their friends even after the abuse took place.

    "Practically no one got angry with me. I am the one who got angry with myself," he told the Lisbon court after identifying each victim and specifying the offences he committed against them.

    The 22 victims were between the ages of 8 and 14 when the abuse took place.

    Silvino is charged with a total of 634 offences, including 598 counts of sexual abuse of minors from Casa Pia, a Lisbon-based network of 10 homes and schools, which looks after some 4000 troubled or orphaned children.

    Last month he told the court he had for years delivered boys from the more than two century old institution, at their request, to several of the other six accused in the high-profile trial.

    Silvino, who has told the court he was sexually abused himself while under the care of Casa Pia as a child, is the first of the seven accused to take the stand in the trial which has gripped Portugal since it began in November.

    His testimony is seen as key in the case against the other accused, including television personality Carlos Cruz, whose career spans three decades, and former ambassador to South Africa Jorge Ritto.

    A former director of Casa Pia, Manuel Abrantes, is also among the accused, as is a 62-year-old woman who is charged with providing her home so that the sexual encounters could take place.

    Mr Abrantes, who maintains he is innocent, said Silvino's confession was "very serious".

    "For this to have taken place, someone had to have closed their eyes," he told reporters as he left the courthouse for a lunch break.

    The scandal began in September 2002 after the mother of a boy who attended classes at a Casa Pia school told police her son had been raped by Silvino while on a field trip.

    A subsequent investigation uncovered allegations of decades of sexual abuse at the institution. More than 100 children currently at Casa Pia show signs of having been abused, social workers say.

    The case has shattered public trust in the authorities, especially after reports surfaced that children had complained about being abused since the mid-1970s, including to a former Portuguese president, butt no one had acted.

    Posted by Nancy at 09:02 AM | Comments (0)

    Child abuse protocol changes

    January 13, 2005 [Ledger Inquirer]
    By Harry Franklin

    15-year-old guidelines updated to close loopholes

    A more comprehensive Muscogee County Child Abuse Protocol was signed and implemented Wednesday.

    The measure is designed to improve coordination between agencies involved in identifying, reporting and evaluating child fatalities to determine whether they were accidental, intentional or natural deaths and to see whether they could have been prevented.

    Georgia law requires that each county have a protocol in place. Muscogee's had been in effect about 15 years. Work by a group of local agencies began to update the plan in March. The completed document is 61 pages, nearly three times as large as the previous plan.

    "It's a lot more detailed on the actions that will be taken and what occurs when a child has been abused," said District Attorney Gray Conger during the morning signing at the Government Center.

    The Child Abuse Protocol Team worked to develop an accurate identification and reporting process so that the evaluation of circumstances in child fatality investigations is monitored and implemented in Columbus.

    Joanne Cavis, a member of the Muscogee County Child Fatality Subcommittee, said reviewing child fatalities involves much more than child abuse. It includes looking into the deaths of infants when the cause of death is labeled as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or Sudden Undetermined Infant Death.

    For a death to be labeled a SIDS death, three things must take place, according to Lori Davis, a field program specialist for Region VIII, Georgia Department of Human Resources, who is in special investigations. A death scene investigation, an autopsy and a clinical/medical history of the infant must be done. If any one of those are lacking, the death of an infant that cannot be explained is listed as SUID.

    "Probably the most important message you can send is that infants need to be on their back in a bed by themselves," said Cavis, with the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service. "The biggest problem we have with baby deaths is infants in bed with adults and other children... . If you want to feel close to a baby, put it in a bassinet next to your bed."

    Infants 2-4 months old are at greatest risk, she said. After nine months, the risk drops significantly.

    Statistics from the Muscogee County Child Fatality Review show that accidental deaths and homicides of children have declined over a four-year period. But five deaths were attributed to SIDS and three to SUID in 2002. In 2003, five deaths were listed as SIDS deaths and one infant death was unexplained, among 18 child deaths reported and evaluated. Two child deaths were attributed to homicide by the review committee in 2003 and two in 2002.

    Gov. Sonny Perdue announced Tuesday he will push for 500 more case workers for the state's Division of Family and Children Services, because agency case workers are overloaded, to boost morale and reduce turnover.

    "Every county, every municipality, including Columbus is going to get some additional case workers," said DFACS spokesman Bryan Toussaint. "Is there an exact number? No one's going to know, at least right now."

    For more information on how to protect infants from sudden death, call the Extension Service at 653-4200

    Posted by Nancy at 08:58 AM | Comments (0)

    Complaints air over Oregon's child protection system

    January 17, 2005 [Associated Press]

    SALEM - Spurred by recent cases involving the death and injury of children in state care, a legislative panel began hearings Monday into a child protection system that one lawmaker said suffers from "an alarming problem."

    "We are going to get to the bottom of what these problems are," said Rep. Billy Dalto, R-Salem, who is chairman of the House Health and Human Services Committee.

    Meanwhile, the state's top child protection official said the program is struggling to keep up with a rising number of child abuse and neglect cases fueled in large part by Oregon's methamphetamine epidemic.

    "The methamphetamine problem alone is driving our system in a way that none of us could have anticipated 10 years ago," said Ramona Foley, assistant director of the Oregon Department of Human Services.

    The comments came as Dalto's committeee began looking for ways to avoid a repeat of two high-profile cases that have put a spotlight on the department's child protection efforts.

    Last month, officials found a 5-year-old girl, Jordan Knapp, in a foster home near Sandy weighing a mere 28 pounds. The girl's foster parents face charges of child abuse.

    A week later, a 15-month-old boy, Ashton Parris, died of head injuries after the state returned him to his birth mother as part of a state-supervised plan to reunite the family.

    The death is under investigation.

    Those cases brought a call from Gov. Ted Kulongoski to review the state's child protection system.

    A state team that looked into the case of the malnourished girl issued a report last week criticizing what it said were poor communications and record-keeping, and a lack of coordination among caseworkers.

    Some of that same criticism was aired at Monday's committee hearing.

    House Speaker Karen Minnis, who attended the meeting, said the Multnomah County sheriff's office has told her the state department at times has been reluctant to share information with local police agencies.

    "There is a lot of frustration that law enforcement can't get information" on pending child abuse complaints, the Wood Village Republican said.

    The department also drew criticism from one lawmaker who said state caseworkers sometimes remove the child from the home and break up a family without proper justification.

    Rep. Gordon Anderson said it such cases, it seems like "overkill" to send two or three police cars to a home to remove a child.

    Others on the committee, however, said they sympathize with the enormous task facing state caseworkers who've seen reports of child abuse and neglect climb by 60 percent in the past decade.

    In the most recent year, state caseworkers screened more than 20,000 complaints of suspected neglect and abuse.

    Of those, more than 9,000 were confirmed.

    Foley, in her remarks to the panel, said while people involved in the state's child protection effort at times feel "overwhelmed" they are searching for ways to improve the program. She noted she has asked a team of national child protection experts to review Oregon's program for assessing abuse complaints.

    Posted by Nancy at 08:52 AM | Comments (0)

    Jury Selection To Start In Shanley Sex Abuse Trial

    January 18, 2005 [The Boston Channel]

    Decades after he allegedly molested young boys at a church in Newton, Mass., defrocked priest Paul Shanley is going to trial. Jury selection begins Tuesday.

    NewsCenter 5's Gail Huff reported that Shanley, 73, is free on bail and it is not known whether he will be present for jury selection.

    Shanley was arrested three years ago in San Diego and charged with several counts of rape of a child and assault and battery for alleged crimes that occurred while he was at St. Jean's Parish in Newton. The case began with four accusers but is going to trial with only one. The plaintiff's name is not being revealed. The most vocal accuser, Gregory Ford, [pictured right] was dropped because prosecutors feared his medical history could hurt the case against Shanley. His father, Rodney Ford, said he hopes the former Catholic priest is convicted and goes to jail.

    All four boys told similar stories of being taken out of religious education classes by Shanley and raped in the confessional, restroom and church rectory. Prosecutors dropped three of the accusers before the trial.

    Shanley allegedly abused more than 12 young boys during his career as a Roman Catholic priest in the Boston archdiocese, but the statute of limitations made it impossible to prosecute most of the cases because they took place so long ago. Because Shanley moved out of state, however, the clock stopped on some of the cases, allowing prosecutors to charge him with sexual abuse that took place between 1979 and 1989.

    Shanley became one of the more well-known clergy sex abuse figures because he was a flamboyant "street priest" and youth worker in the 1970s who garnered publicity for his work with homeless teens. Internal church documents showed that archdiocese officials knew of sex abuse complaints against Shanley dating back to 1967, including reports that he advocated sex between men and boys, but they refused to deal with the issue, instead transferring him from parish to parish, including the Newton church.

    Shanley has denied ever raping anyone. He was defrocked by the Vatican (news - web sites) in Feburary 2004.

    The archdiocese has already paid more than $85 million to more than 500 accusers who sued the church and won a large settlement.

    Shanley's lawyer said he will argue that the accusers made up the abuse stories in order to collect monetary settlements from the archdiocese.

    Because the clergy sex abuse cases have been so widely publicized, the judge has allotted at least four days for jury selection with the expectation it will be difficult to put a panel together. The trial is expected to take two weeks.

    Posted by Nancy at 07:56 AM | Comments (0)

    Murder and Suicide Reviving Claims of Child Abuse in Cult

    January 15, 2005 [NY Times]
    By Laurie Goodstein

    Ricky Rodriguez, the son of a leader of the Children of God, showed off weapons in a videotape he made the night before he killed his former nanny and himself. On the tape he said he had "a need for revenge."

    Growing up in the 1970's in a religious cult known around the world as the Children of God, Ricky Rodriguez was revered as "the prince." The group's leaders were his mother and stepfather, and they taught that their son would guide them all when the End Times came.

    He was so special that his unconventional upbringing - by a collection of often-topless young nannies - was chronicled in "The Davidito Book," which was distributed to cult members as a how-to guide for rearing children. And children the cult had in multitudes.

    Last Saturday in Tucson, Mr. Rodriguez, now 29, invited a former nanny, Angela Smith, to go to dinner. He took Ms. Smith to his apartment, stabbed her to death, went to his Chevrolet, drove west across the California border to a small desert town, Blythe, and called his wife on his cellphone to explain why he had killed Ms. Smith, the police in both states and Mr. Rodriguez's wife said.

    Then with one shot from a semiautomatic handgun, the police said, he ended his life.

    The group lives on. What was known as a 60's cult that attracted members like the parents of the actor River Phoenix and Jeremy Spencer, the Fleetwood Mac guitarist, is now called the Family International.

    A spokesman in Washington, Claire Borowik, described the organization as a Christian fellowship with 4,000 children and 4,000 adult members who lived in 718 communal houses in 100 countries. The group sends aid workers and missionaries to disasters like the recent tsunami. Its musical troupe, the Family Singers, have at various times sung in the White House.

    But Mr. Rodriguez's murder-suicide is reviving accusations by former members about routine physical, emotional and sexual abuse that they say they experienced as children.

    There is evidence of the practices in documents that the cult's leaders consider so damaging that they acknowledge they twice sent out "purge notices" to their followers with explicit directions about which pages to burn, which photographs to white-out and which to excise with Exacto knives.

    Mr. Rodriguez recorded a videotape the night before he killed Ms. Smith and committed suicide. The video, which was provided to The New York Times by Mr. Rodriguez's wife, was taped in his apartment in Tucson and shows him loading a gun and showing off other weapons.

    He said he saw himself as a vigilante avenging children like him and his sisters who had been subject to rapes and beatings.

    "There's this need that I have," he said. "It's not a want. It's a need for revenge. It's a need for justice, because I can't go on like this."

    Mr. Rodriguez is not the only suicide among people reared in the Children of God. Some former members who keep in touch with one another through a Web site, movingon.org, say that in the last 13 years at least 25 young people reared in the cult have committed suicide.

    In response to questions, the Family strongly insisted in an e-mail message from Ms. Borowik that the formers members were intentionally inflating the count by including accidents, overdoses and people who are alive.

    For the Family International, the latest murder-suicide threatens to revive a past that Ms. Borowik said she thought the organization had put behind it. The Family announced in 1986 that it had changed its guidelines and would excommunicate anyone who had sexual contact with children, she said.

    The group survived investigations into child abuse in Argentina, Australia, France and Spain in the 90's. Although some members were briefly jailed, there were no convictions of top leaders.

    Ms. Borowik attributed Mr. Rodriguez's crime not to his past, but to his current "peers." She said that when he left the group in 2000, he came in contact with former members who are "virulent vitriolic apostates, which we have a small circle of, who want to do damage to our movement."

    They failed to point him in "positive directions," she said.

    Mr. Rodriguez's mother, Karen Zerby, known as the Queen or Mama Maria, still leads the Family. Her whereabouts and travel schedule are kept secret, even from most group members, Ms. Borowik said, "because of her spiritual ministry to so many people."

    Ms. Zerby refused an interview request submitted to Ms. Borowik.

    Posted by Nancy at 07:47 AM | Comments (0)

    Bishop reviews reporting plan for suspected child sex abuse

    January 18, 2005 [Tucson Citizen]
    By Sheryl Kornman

    The spiritual leader of southern Arizona's Catholics meets with clergy to go over the Tucson diocese's policy in reporting incidents of sexual misconduct.

    The Catholic Diocese of Tucson appears to have stepped up efforts to make sure suspected child sex abuse is reported to authorities following the arrest in December of a priest on suspicion of failing to report an incident of alleged abuse.

    Diocese spokesman Fred Allison said the timing of Bishop Gerald Kicanas' Jan. 10 review with the diocese's clergy leaders of the church's guidelines for reporting sexual misconduct by clergy is not related to the arrests in December of a Tucson priest and a church volunteer for failing to report an alleged incident of child sex abuse.

    Authorities dropped the charges, and the priest was reassigned to San Luis, near Yuma, Allison said.

    At the Pastoral Council meeting Kicanas covered the diocese's compliance plans, its zero-tolerance policy and the matter of the priests against whom there are credible allegations of sex abuse. The Pastoral Council is made up of clergy and lay people.

    What he said was not made public.

    To reach more people, a column in the January issue of Catholic Vision, the diocese newspaper, tackles the issue of why clergy or other church personnel may not report allegations of sexual abuse of minors.

    Paul Duckro, a psychologist and the diocese's director of the Office of Child, Adolescent and Adult Protection, noted these key points:

  • "The arrests of two of our personnel for alleged failure to report have demonstrated that we ... are not perfect in our response to situations in which we encounter possible abuse."

  • "Lack of education in regard to reporting incidents was not the issue."

  • It was "the way of thinking that could lead to the wrong response."

  • The situation in front of us "is perceived to fall outside the definition of child abuse. It might be seen as a family matter, consensual or between kids."

    Duckro said "abuse is abuse no matter the relationship of perpetrator to victim and no matter the voiced consent of the victim."
    And, he said, clergy can make a mistake when they honor secrecy agreements.

    "The fact is there is no confidentiality in most circumstances for most of us," he wrote.

    A diocese employee who says "I don't have time for this" is making "another mistake that can make perfect sense at the time but carries no weight under the law," Duckro wrote.

    He advised clergy to "take the time now (to report an incident) or risk spending much more time later trying to undo the problem the delay creates."

    Thinking "this could not be true" is not an excuse for not reporting an allegation of abuse. "Make the call," he said. "Let law enforcement sort it out."

    Dukro said that a lack of confidence in how police or Child Protective Services might handle the matter is not a reason to not report alleged child abuse or sexual molestation.
    "Know the law," he advised them.

    Kicanas sent letters to all diocese priests and deacons the week of Jan. 3 asking them "to review the requirements for background checks and fingerprint verification," according to his weekly memo published on the diocese Web site Jan. 10.

    According to the diocese's Web site, "Fingerprinting and criminal background checks will be performed on all priests, deacons, religious, seminarians, diocesan employees, and all volunteers who minister to children, adolescents or vulnerable adults."

    They were also asked to make sure they had signed statements indicating they had received training on the diocesan Code of Conduct and Guidelines for the Prevention of and Response to Sexual Misconduct.

    Posted by Nancy at 07:22 AM | Comments (0)

    Panel begins child abuse hearings

    January 18, 2005
    By BRAD CAIN [Associated Press writer]

    SALEM — Spurred by recent cases involving the death and injury of children in state care, a legislative panel began hearings Monday into a child protection system that one lawmaker said suffers from "an alarming problem."

    "We are going to get to the bottom of what these problems are," said Rep. Billy Dalto, R-Salem, who is chairman of the House Health and Human Services Committee.

    Meanwhile, the state's top child protection official said the program is struggling to keep up with a rising number of child abuse and neglect cases fueled in large part by Oregon's methamphetamine epidemic.

    "The methamphetamine problem alone is driving our system in a way that none of us could have anticipated 10 years ago," said Ramona Foley, assistant director of the Oregon Department of Human Services.

    The comments came as Dalto's committee began looking for ways to avoid a repeat of two high-profile cases that have put a spotlight on the department's child protection efforts.

    Last month, officials found a 5-year-old girl, Jordan Knapp, in a foster home near Sandy weighing a mere 28 pounds. The girl's foster parents face charges of child abuse.

    A week later, a 15-month-old boy, Ashton Parris, died of head injuries after the state returned him to his birth mother as part of a state-supervised plan to reunite the family. The death is under investigation.

    Those cases brought a call from Gov. Ted Kulongoski to review the state's child protection system.

    A state team that looked into the case of the malnourished girl issued a report last week criticizing what it said were poor communications and record-keeping, and a lack of coordination among caseworkers.

    Some of that same criticism was aired at Monday's committee hearing.

    House Speaker Karen Minnis, who attended the meeting, said the Multnomah County sheriff's office has told her the state department at times has been reluctant to share information with local police agencies.

    "There is a lot of frustration that law enforcement can't get information" on pending child abuse complaints, the Wood Village Republican said.

    The department also drew criticism from one lawmaker who said state caseworkers sometimes remove the child from the home and break up a family without proper justification.

    Rep. Gordon Anderson, R-Grants Pass, said in such cases, it seems like "overkill" to send two or three police cars to a home to remove a child.

    Others on the committee, however, said they sympathize with the enormous task facing state caseworkers who've seen reports of child abuse and neglect climb by 60 percent in the past decade.

    In the most recent year, state caseworkers screened more than 20,000 complaints of suspected neglect and abuse. Of those, more than 9,000 were confirmed.

    Posted by Nancy at 07:13 AM | Comments (0)

    January 17, 2005

    Recent Iowa cases involving child porn

    January 17, 2005 [Register News Services]

    Here are a few examples of child pornography cases in Iowa last year, culled from incidents reported in The Des Moines Register:

    • Lauralei Lutgen, 27, of Dubuque was arrested last month over allegations that she violated restrictions placed on her after she had been charged with child sex abuse. She had been ordered to disconnect her home Internet service, but authorities said they found both an Internet connection and a pornographic Web site on a computer in her home. Lutgen originally was charged with having sex with a 15-year-old boy, and allowing an 11-year-old girl and a 13-year-old boy to view pornography and encouraging them to have sex with each other.

    • Ronald Dean Meyer, 35, owner of Strang Tire Co. in Oelwein, last month was sentenced to almost three years in federal prison after admitting that he knowingly possessed videotapes showing children younger than 18 engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

    • Jerry Orman Whicker, 22, of Albia last fall was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for making child pornography. Whicker pleaded guilty to accusations that he videotaped young girls engaged in sexually explicit conduct and sold the images, which were stored on his home computer.

    • Gerald Leroy Vick II, 42, of Stanwood, a former counselor for juvenile sexual offenders, was sentenced in October to 33 months in federal prison for possession of child pornography stored on more than 10 computer disks.

    • Also in October, Scott Sweet, 44, of Spirit Lake was sentenced to 14 years in prison for coercing a girl younger than 16 into sexually explicit conduct. Federal authorities said that from November 2001 to early 2002, Sweet posed as a teenage boy on the Internet and persuaded the girl to send him sexually explicit pictures of herself. Sweet also admitted that in December 2001 he secretly filmed another minor girl as she took a shower in his bathroom.

    • Dieter C. Gensch, 48, of West Des Moines in October was sentenced to 27 months in federal prison for possession of child pornography. Gensch admitted he was a member of an online group that exchanged child pornography.

    • Leslie Ulric Beal, 52, a former custodian at a Marshall County elementary school, last fall was sentenced to almost two years in prison for possessing mail-order videotapes of child pornography while he worked for the Green Mountain-Garwin school district. He was arrested after he was seen destroying documents and photographs.

    • Brian Bassett, 22, of Marion last summer was sentenced to 71/2 years in prison for possession of child pornography and interstate transportation of child pornography.

    • Vicente Rosal Abad Jr., 25, of Hialeah, Fla., pleaded guilty in February of sexual exploitation of a child. Authorities said he traveled to Milford, Ia., the summer before to have sex with a girl younger than 16. He filmed the girl as she engaged in sexually explicit conduct with him, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

    • Last January, the Rev. Richard Poster, the former director of liturgy for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Davenport, was sentenced to a year in prison for downloading child pornography on the computer he used to publish a church newspaper.

    Posted by Nancy at 08:56 PM | Comments (0)

    Forde appeals to Beattie for abuse victims

    January 17, 2005 By Rosemary Odgers

    FORMER Queensland governor Leneen Forde has pleaded for an extra $2 million from the State Government to ensure her foundation can help child abuse victims.

    Ms Forde said victims of abuse in former state and church-run institutions were being forgotten despite the current focus on Queensland's child protection system.

    Her funding plea came after Premier Peter Beattie announced the government would give $900,000 to the Forde Foundation this financial year.

    The funding boost will take total government donations to the trust to nearly $3 million, but Ms Forde yesterday said more was needed to help the former residents.

    Posted by Nancy at 08:53 PM | Comments (0)

    Woman made her child sick for attention

    January 17, 2005 [Associated Press]

    OSHKOSH, Wis. - A woman who admitted she deliberately made her 1-year-old son sick so everyone would care about her and the boy pleaded no contest to one count of felony child abuse.

    Jessica L. Cuevas, 22, faces up to 15 years in prison after a Winnebago County Circuit judge accepted her plea last week.

    According to a criminal complaint, Oshkosh police officers responded to Aurora Medical Center in August on suspicion of abuse after Cuevas brought her son in for treatment.

    Cuevas told police she first brought her son to another hospital that month and received prescription medication for the boy, who was red and feverish, the complaint said. She allegedly said she mixed the medication with cough medicine prescribed to someone else so the child would get sick.

    Cuevas said she purposely made the child sick so everyone, including the child's father, would care about her and her son, the complaint said.

    It said she told police she had previously let her child's health diminish to the point of hospitalization twice before.

    The child is now in protective custody.

    A sentencing hearing was scheduled for March 17.

    Posted by Nancy at 08:50 PM | Comments (0)

    T or C Man Charged with Child Abuse

    January 16, 2005

    A Truth or Consequences man is being held in jail on child abuse charges, following the death of his daughter.

    The child bears signs of severe physical abuse, injuries which "proved to be fatal," New Mexico State Police Spokesman Jimmy Glascock said.

    In custody is Ruben Garcia, who is 24. State police officers obtained an arrest warrant for Garcia and arrested him Saturday morning at the Western Inn Hotel in Las Cruces.

    Garcia's girlfriend, Sammi Luna, the child's mother, returned to their apartment in Truth or Consequences and found 3-week-old child unresponsive. Luna took the girl to Sierra Vista hospital, but the baby died prior to their arrival.

    Posted by Nancy at 08:47 PM | Comments (0)

    Huge child porn bust shocks Ottawa police

    January 17, 2005

    Ottawa police say they've uncovered some of the worst acts of child sexual abuse they've ever seen.

    In the biggest child pornography bust in the history of the Ottawa police service, eight Ottawa men are facing charges of accessing and distributing images over the Internet of very young children engaged in sexual acts.

    Sgt. Sandra McLaren said those acts include newborns to children only a few years old.

    CTV's Ottawa affiliate, CJOH, reports that even seasoned officers were shaken by the images.

    "It's one of shock, really. People think of pornography and nobody gets very excited about [it] anymore," Insp. Phil Lockett told CJOH.

    "But this is more than pornography, this is child abuse. And to have young kids involved in some of these sexual acts on film is kind of hard to take."

    The police service's high tech crimes unit began investigating the case after being tipped off by the RCMP National Child Exploitation Centre.

    Search warrants netted computers, CDs and DVDs containing tens of thousands of child pornography images and movies from eight homes in Ottawa.

    Police say this is a global problem, but the search is on to find whether any of the young victims are from Ottawa.

    Sgt. McLaren told CJOH: "We've just started the forensic analysis on the media that we've seized, and certainly we will be looking at those images to try and determine if any of them have been created locally or involve children who are being abused are in our community here in Ottawa."

    Authorities add that it was not a child pornography ring, noting there is no connection among those charged. But the investigation is ongoing and more charges may be on the way

    Posted by Nancy at 08:43 PM | Comments (0)

    School district knew about teacher abuse complaints, newspaper says

    January 17, 2005 [Associated Press]

    SALEM — Salem-Keizer School District officials were told years ago about a band teacher suspected of inappropriate behavior with female students, according to the Statesman Journal.

    The Salem newspaper obtained documents that showed parents had concerns at least four years before Houck Middle School teacher Joe Billera was arrested last October and charged with sex abuse.

    Billera, 30, recently pleaded guilty to sexually abusing four former students, beginning a few months after he was hired in 1997. He also admitted having sex with at least one of the girls. Sentencing is set for Wednesday. He resigned from his job Jan. 6.

    The school district, however, never placed Billera on leave, never hired an independent investigator and never reported the complaints to the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission — all standard procedure when a teacher is accused of serious misconduct, according to the newspaper.

    Billera was disciplined after one flurry of complaints in fall 2001. District officials said that teacher privacy rules prevent them from disclosing the discipline, but it did not involve any time away from the classroom.

    Some parents told the Statesman Journal their concerns were ignored or mishandled and they fault the district for failing to piece together what now appears to be a pattern of inappropriate behavior.

    "They were overlooking it because he was such a good teacher,'' parent Tim Haburn said. "This has been going on for years.''

    The Statesman Journal filed an appeal of a school district decision not to disclose details of complaints against Billera.

    Citing Oregon public records law, Marion County District Attorney Walt Beglau ordered the district to make some of the documents public.

    A review of the documents, along with interviews, showed that a number of parents complained about an incident in late 2000, when a 13-year-old student was sitting on Billera's lap, with a blanket wrapped around the pair, at a school sporting event.

    A year later, in notes of a telephone conversation with a concerned parent, then-employee relations director George Gray wrote, "I told (the parent) that the matter had been investigated; that it is not appropriate for student to sit on teacher's lap.''

    However, the district has no other record of the complaints or of any investigation, said Joe Weiss, the district's human resources director.

    The district disciplined Billera in late 2001 after several students said he had threatened them for gossiping about his close relationship with the same 13-year-old girl.

    In a written complaint to former Houck Middle School Principal Pat Mack, Robert Ogan, the parent of one of the threatened students, said he thought that the gossip was based on fact.

    The documents show that Ogan also discussed his concerns with Gray, Superintendent Kay Baker, and Mark Davalos, who then was assistant director of secondary education.

    Davalos and Gray no longer work for the district. Mack, who retired in 2003, could not be reached for comment.

    Baker wrote a letter to Ogan saying that she had referred his concerns to Weiss.

    But Weiss said that no one at the district had knowledge police were investigating Billera until after he was arrested.

    Billera was director of the award-winning Houck band program for seven years, developing one of the largest and best middle school band programs in the state. He also was assistant director of the North High band program, and assisted with McNary's band program.

    Billera won the Crystal Apple Award for teaching excellence in 2001 and was chosen as the 2002 Music Educator of the Year by the Oregon Symphony Association of Salem.

    He worked for the University of Oregon School of Music band camp for grades eight through 12, serving as recreation and housing director.

    Billera has been married for five years, with a young son and another child on the way.

    Billera has been in jail since his arrest Oct. 29. He initially was on suicide watch, and at his request currently is in protective custody, meaning that he is isolated from other inmates.

    In late December, under a plea agreement, Billera admitted to 10 of the 15 charges in exchange for a sentence of six to 12 years. The maximum sentence is 53 years.

    Deputy District Attorney Darin Tweedt said he will try to persuade the judge to impose a longer sentence. If the judge agrees, Billera could choose to change his plea and request a trial.

    Posted by Nancy at 12:42 AM | Comments (0)

    Trial of priest at center of clergy sex abuse scandal set to begin

    January 17, 2005 [Associated Press] By Denise Lavoie

    CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) -- He's 73 now, and unrecognizable as the hip "street priest" known more than 30 years ago for wearing long hair and blue jeans, and reaching out to Boston's troubled youth.

    Paul Shanley is a senior citizen now, frail-looking with thinning white hair and deep lines in his face. His has become perhaps the most recognizable face of the clergy sexual abuse crisis that has shaken the Roman Catholic Church for the past three years.

    This week, Shanley goes on trial on child rape charges in one of a handful of criminal cases in which prosecutors have been able to bring against priests accused of sexually abusing children decades ago.

    Most of the priests accused in civil lawsuits have avoided criminal prosecution because the alleged crimes were committed so long ago that charges were barred by the statute of limitations. But because Shanley moved out of Massachusetts, the clock stopped, allowing prosecutors to arrest Shanley in May 2002 for sexual abuse that allegedly took place between 1979 and 1989.

    Shanley became one of the most notorious figures in the clergy sex scandal after internal church documents were released showing church officials knew about abuse complaints against him as early as 1967 and knew that he advocated sex between men and boys, yet they continued to transfer him from parish to parish.

    Prosecutors started out with four alleged victims in the criminal case. All four men said they were sexually abused by Shanley at St. Jean's parish in Newton when they were children. They told similar stories of being taken out of religious education classes and raped by Shanley, in the church rectory, confessional and restroom.

    But prosecutors dropped two of the alleged victims from the case and plan to drop a third before trial, leaving only one accuser in the case.

    Shanley's lawyer, Frank Mondano, has made it clear he will argue that the man made up his story of abuse to win a monetary award in a civil lawsuit.

    The man, along with the other three victims originally in the criminal case, settled civil lawsuits with the Boston Archdiocese in April 2004. The exact monetary terms were not disclosed, but an attorney for the men has said each received more than $300,000. That was the maximum settlement received by 550 other alleged abuse victims received in an $85 million settlement reached with the archdiocese in September 2003.

    Prosecutors have asked Judge Stephen Neel to bar Shanley's defense from introducing evidence of the civil settlement. The judge has not yet ruled on the request.

    Shanley's defense also plans to challenge the man's claims of repressed memories. The man said he did not remember the abuse until after the clergy scandal erupted in Boston three years ago.

    Mondano plans to call Elizabeth Loftus, a well-known psychologist who has challenged the reliability of recovered memory, to testify at the trial.

    J.W. Carney Jr., a former prosecutor who is now a Boston defense attorney, said it will be difficult for prosecutors to overcome a general skepticism about repressed memories.

    "The whole theory of repressed memory is quite dubious," he said. "It lacks fundamental scientific support. It also is counterintuitive to what jurors' own experiences have been. Even though we might forget details of traumatic things we've been through, we do not completely forget the traumatic experience itself."

    The notoriety of the clergy scandal and Shanley's own notoriety may make picking a jury difficult. Neel has set aside four days for jury selection, beginning Tuesday.

    "This is one of those cases where it will be next to impossible to find a jury that hasn't heard about it," said David Yas, editor of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly.

    "It will be a very delicate situation in choosing jurors because they will be colored by the reports they've seen in the past. These potential jurors, most of them, have seen Paul Shanley's face on the news ... and it's hard to think that many potential jurors won't presume him guilty."

    The defense has asked the judge to instruct the jury that there have been no other judicial rulings against Shanley. But Assistant District Attorney Lynn Rooney has objected, citing the money the Boston Archdiocese paid to settle civil lawsuits in which Shanley was accused of sexual abuse. She also note that he was defrocked by the Vatican in February 2004.

    Neel said he was inclined to give the jury a general direction not to speculate about whether there are other cases against Shanley.

    The trial is expected to last about two weeks

    Posted by Nancy at 12:32 AM | Comments (0)

    Advocate for children in the court system

    Jan 17, 2005 [Daily Oakland Press] By Natalie Lombardo

    Julie Bush is not only a confidant to abused children, she is their voice. Bush is an advocate for children in the court system because their parents can't or won't protect them or provide them with basic needs.

    Her responsibilities are to investigate abuse cases, identify resources and services for the children, monitor whether court orders are being carried out and speak for the youngsters while attending all hearings.

    "It's grueling. Many of the children's situations are very tragic. But I deal with it by helping them," said Bush of Beverly Hills. "I know what goes on, and I couldn't sit back with my arms crossed and do nothing."

    Bush does this on her own time, as a volunteer court-appointed special advocate for the Child Abuse and Neglect Council of Oakland County.

    The council is seeking more courageous people, like Bush, to work with children in its programs.

    On Jan. 25, the council will host a Volunteer Call for Action Day from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. at CARE House, 44765 Woodward Ave., Pontiac. The day will involve informational sessions, evaluations and training.

    At CARE House, the council works closely with area law enforcement, judicial and social services agencies to ease children though the unfamiliar process that may follow allegations of abuse or neglect.

    "Our volunteers play a vital role in every aspect of what we do here - from greeting the children when they enter our doors, and working with our staff in our nurturing programs, to supporting children through the court system," said Laurie Walters, director of volunteers for the council.

    Walters said about 40 volunteers are needed, primarily child advocates and child assistants.

    Bush is also a child assistant. When the children come to CARE House for forensic interviews, Bush comforts and plays with them while their parents must leave the room to be questioned.

    "We try to cheer them up and keep their mind off of the trauma," Bush said. "It's very fulfilling because I can help, even if it's in a small way."

    Bush has been a volunteer at CARE House for a year and a half and also helps Meals on Wheels.

    The council has seven programs that aid families in physical and emotional recovery and provide support to children who need to go through the court system.

    "The bottom line is about wanting to help kids," Walters said. "The volunteers' assistance, giving and commitment go a long way in building up the trust that the children and their families may have lost and allows them to feel safe again."

    If you go to help, come to the Volunteer Call for Action Day from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Jan. 25 at CARE House, 44765 Woodward Ave., Pontiac. For information, call (248) 332-7173

    Posted by Nancy at 12:15 AM | Comments (0)

    Future of N.H. church abuse settlement heads to court

    January 16, 2005
    By J.M. Hirsch Associated Press Writer

    CONCORD, N.H.— Discord over evaluating the child protection policies of the state's Roman Catholic diocese has grown so acrimonious the agreement calling for the evaluation could be voided.

    That has both sides eager to persuade a judge the deal can be saved.

    If they fail, the state could find itself litigating an onerous case with little guarantee of success, while the diocese could earn the distinction of being the first in the nation to face criminal charges stemming from the child sex abuse scandal.

    Annual audits for five years are required by a 2002 agreement between the church and state that ended a criminal investigation of whether diocesan officials knew members of the clergy were abusing children but failed to protect them.

    At issue now is the scope of the audit and who will pay for it. The church wants the state to cover the bill and the evaluation to be limited mostly to paperwork. The state says the church should pay and wants a wide-ranging evaluation.

    The dispute began just months after the church and state reached the then unprecedented deal in which prosecutors agreed not to seek criminal indictments against the church.

    In exchange, the diocese agreed to enact strict new child protection policies, admit its actions had harmed children, open itself to audits and admit it probably would have been convicted had the case gone to trial.

    The agreement did not specify who would pay for the audits, however, and the parties have wildly different takes on what sort of audit would satisfy the terms of the agreement.

    In September, the dispute landed before Hillsborough County Superior Court Judge Carol Conboy, who said the interpretations were so divergent she questioned whether there was any agreement at all.

    She ordered both sides to explain why she shouldn't void the agreement. A hearing on the definition of a contract and whether the agreement constitutes one is scheduled for Thursday.

    The church abuse scandal erupted in Boston in early 2002. It quickly spread to the rest of the nation, including New Hampshire, where John McCormack - a former top aide to Boston Cardinal Bernard Law - was bishop.

    During the next few years, the New Hampshire diocese paid millions of dollars in settlements as hundreds of people came forward accusing clergymen of sexual abuse.

    The state's investigation was prompted by allegations that the church knew about some of the abuse and covered it up. Most of the allegations are from the 1960s and 1970s, long before McCormack's tenure.

    Since the agreement, McCormack - who also was the subject of criticism from his time in Boston - has admitted making mistakes, and has instituted tough new policies in New Hampshire, where he was named bishop in 1998.

    In briefs filed last week, both sides had harsh words for the other's interpretation of how the agreement should be carried out.

    Associate Attorney General Ann Larney called the diocese's version indefensible and preposterous. The church sees the audit mostly as a review of policies and documents; the state seeks broad access to interview diocesan personnel.

    "The diocese now seeks to continue the environment of secrecy and avoidance by claiming that the audit provision is narrow and superficial, with the state only allowed to measure compliance by looking at written policies and procedures but no opportunity to look into whether they work or are effective," Larney wrote.

    The agreement says the audit "may include, without limitation, the inspection of records and the interview of diocesan personnel."

    The diocese believes the scope of the state's proposed audit goes well beyond what it agreed to and would be so intrusive it would be unconstitutional, diocesan lawyer David Vicinanzo said.

    "The diocese, mindful of these limits and presuming state compliance with the law, agreed to an audit to assess its compliance with its obligations under the agreement. The diocese did not, and the state could not, agree to an audit of the scope" proposed, he wrote.

    In comparison, money seems less of a sticking point. Though initial church estimates said the audits would cost around $1 million, in an interview last week Larney said negotiations with the auditing firm have cut that to about $445,000. That includes scaling back the audit from five years to four.

    While the state originally said the church, as the target of a criminal investigation, should pay the bill, Larney said the state would consider splitting it. The diocese has argued the state must pay.

    Thursday's hearing will include a group of Catholics who have been critical of the church's handling of the abuse crisis.

    The group, led by Anne Coughlin, asked the judge to make them interveners in the case, arguing that as members and victims of the church they have an interest in the outcome. Though Conboy has not ruled, she plans to let them speak during the hearing.

    Coughlin says the group hasn't decided what it will say in court, but felt it was vital to have the opportunity.

    "When it seemed to become a question of whether they are going to do this, that was worrying. This agreement means a lot to people," she said. "To know there is some danger of losing the whole thing is a matter of grave concern."

    Posted by Nancy at 12:15 AM | Comments (0)

    January 16, 2005

    Three fibromyalgia sufferers learn to cope through aquatics

    January 2005 [Coles County Leader] by Amy Kaiser

    Those who see Julia Boyd kickboxing or doing Pilates at the Mattoon YMCA wouldn't dream the 31-year-old has been confined to her bed for days at a time. Nor would they believe she suffers from a disease that often sweeps victims off their feet, sometimes for good.

    Many people have heard of fibromyalgia, but unless they suffer from it or know of someone who does, it's hard to understand the physical and emotional toll it takes on its victims. Fibromyalgia is one of the more than 100 rheumatic disorders related to arthritis.

    It's a musculoskeletal disease that strikes some six percent of the U.S. population and although men and children do contract it, the chronic pain illness seems to be partial to women.

    Fibromyalgia is characterized by widespread muscle pain and stiffness, soft tissue tenderness and chronic fatigue. And according to the National Fibromyalgia Association (NFA), the pain is profound, widespread and chronic and often migrates to all parts of the body, varying in intensity. Other symptoms, according to the NFA, are irritable bowel, severe jaw pain, dry eyes and mouth, ringing in the ears, dizziness, and insomnia.

    Boyd was diagnosed with the disease at age 28, after experiencing crippling muscle pain. Shortly after giving birth to her second child, her doctor told her she was not only suffering from postpartum depression, but that she had Fibromyalgia, as well.

    Though Boyd was surprised by the diagnosis, looking back she realizes she first began experiencing muscle pain and fatigue about age 17, after a horrific knee injury. She was eventually diagnosed with arthritis and joint problems.

    And though Boyd still experiences many of these symptoms, the fitness instructor at the Mattoon Area YMCA has learned to manage them - for reasons not entirely her own.

    "A year after my diagnosis, my son was diagnosed with autism. Frankly, I didn't have time to be sick so I learned to manage my disease so I could help my son," she explained.

    But as those who know her would probably attest, Boyd isn't the type of person who would let a disease control her. And though there is no cure, her energy and optimism about life in general helps her deal with it.

    "I knew if I let it, this disease would get me down," she explained. "But I wanted to control it, not let it control me. At first I took medications. But what has really worked is learning how to avoid stressful situations - good or bad - and exercise, particularly aquaerobics."

    The NFA advises gentle exercise and stretching for Fibromyalgia patients to help maintain muscle tone and reduce pain. Boyd said doctors recommended water exercise for her - common advice for this disease.

    Boyd was first introduced to aquaerobics in 1992 when she began taking the classess at the YMCA to help soothe her arthritis and joint problems. She began to teach the class in 1993 and has been instructing ever since. Certain months cause her disease to affect her more, especially seasonal changes. During those difficult months, she spends more time exercising in the water.

    "Exercise is one thing I have to do for my body," she explained. "Meticulous nurturing is getting me through this. People tell me that there is no way I'm in pain by the way I move and act. I tell them that I am often in pain, but I'm controlling it with exercise."

    Ironically, the YMCA is no stranger to Fibromyalgia. Two other fitness instructors there have also been diagnosed with the disease.

    At age 66, Shirley Nolan has had the disease for 16 years.

    "I was diagnosed at age 50 and just hurt all over," she explained. "When I was diagnosed, I was actually relieved. I finally knew what I was dealing with." Her doctor told her the best way to "deal" with her disease and make herself feel better was to go to the Y and take aquatic classes or just get into the pool.

    "I was leery of the water. I couldn't swim so I gave the excuse that I lived too far away to drive to the YMCA," the Ashmore resident said. "The pain got so bad, I forced myself to go." And it made all the difference in the world, she added.

    When she first attended the Hinges and Twinges class, she said she was terrified of the water and stayed at the edge of the pool. Today, the mother and grandmother teaches the class specifically designed for arthritis sufferers.

    And then there's Nancy West. She was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis with Fibromyalgic tendencies when she was just 11. The disease progressed so quickly that she was not physically able to attend high school. She was schooled via an intercom system between her school and home, established by the local phone company.

    Today the 42-year-old mom is an active aquaerobics instructor. She said her reaction when diagnosed was, "I can beat it." She manages her disease through medication and water exercise.

    All three women swear by water exercise and offer the same advice to people suffering from muscle and joint pain - Get into the water.

    "I was skeptical that water exercise was the answer," West explained. "Now I'm sold on it and encourage others to get in the water. No matter how much effort it will take, it will be worth it."

    Nolan agreed. "It's the best thing I ever did for myself."

    Posted by Nancy at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

    Fibromyalgia: New Insights Into a Misunderstood Ailment

    January 2005 [Health Day News]

    Fibromyalgia was once dismissed by many traditional medical practitioners as a phantom illness.

    But that view is changing rapidly. Not only is fibromyalgia accepted as a diagnosable illness, it is also a syndrome that researchers are finding more complicated as new information emerges.

    As recently as a year ago, many physicians still associated some of fibromyalgia's symptoms with emotional problems, but that's no longer the case.

    A simple description of fibromyalgia is that it is a chronic syndrome characterized by widespread muscle pain and fatigue.

    For still unknown reasons, people with fibromyalgia have increased sensitivity to pain that occurs in areas called their "tender points." Common ones are the front of the knees, the elbows, the hip joints, the neck and spine. People may also experience sleep disturbances, morning stiffness, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety and other symptoms.

    According to the American College of Rheumatology, fibromyalgia affects 3 million to 6 million Americans, 80 percent to 90 percent of whom are women. The condition is most often diagnosed during middle age, but at least one of its symptoms appears earlier in life.

    But is there a psychological tie-in strong enough to differentiate fibromyalgia from other similar diseases and conditions? Apparently not.

    "Fibromyalgia patients are such a diverse group of patients, they cannot all be the same," said Dr. Thorsten Giesecke, a University of Michigan research fellow.

    Giesecke and his colleagues evaluated 97 fibromyalgia patients, including 85 women and 12 men. The patients underwent a two-day series of tests, answering questions about their coping strategies and personality traits -- particularly their emotional well-being. They were also tested for sensitivity to pressure and pain.

    "It's generally been thought that fibromyalgia patients who have higher distress have higher pain sensitivities," Giesecke said.

    In other words, it was believed that those with fibromyalgia who were prone to emotional difficulties such as depression and anxiety were more likely to experience greater physical pain.

    As recently as a year ago, many physicians still associated some of fibromyalgia's symptoms with emotional problems, but that's no longer the case.

    A simple description of fibromyalgia is that it is a chronic syndrome characterized by widespread muscle pain and fatigue.

    For still unknown reasons, people with fibromyalgia have increased sensitivity to pain that occurs in areas called their "tender points." Common ones are the front of the knees, the elbows, the hip joints, the neck and spine. People may also experience sleep disturbances, morning stiffness, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety and other symptoms.

    According to the American College of Rheumatology, fibromyalgia affects 3 million to 6 million Americans, 80 percent to 90 percent of whom are women. The condition is most often diagnosed during middle age, but at least one of its symptoms appears earlier in life.

    But is there a psychological tie-in strong enough to differentiate fibromyalgia from other similar diseases and conditions? Apparently not.

    "Fibromyalgia patients are such a diverse group of patients, they cannot all be the same," said Dr. Thorsten Giesecke, a University of Michigan research fellow.

    Giesecke and his colleagues evaluated 97 fibromyalgia patients, including 85 women and 12 men. The patients underwent a two-day series of tests, answering questions about their coping strategies and personality traits -- particularly their emotional well-being. They were also tested for sensitivity to pressure and pain.

    "It's generally been thought that fibromyalgia patients who have higher distress have higher pain sensitivities," Giesecke said.

    In other words, it was believed that those with fibromyalgia who were prone to emotional difficulties such as depression and anxiety were more likely to experience greater physical pain.

    Posted by Nancy at 11:50 PM | Comments (0)

    A Hands-On Approach to Improved Health

    January 2005 [Mayo Clinic]

    Newswise — What therapy can help decrease pain, anxiety, stress and depression? It can help patients with arthritis, lymphedema, fibromyalgia, scleroderma, pregnancy and psychological disorders. And it even can help relieve agitation that may occur with Alzheimer’s disease and the rigidity associated with Parkinson’s disease.

    The therapy isn’t a new discovery. It’s massage -- one of the oldest forms of therapy. Today, there’s growing interest in the benefits of massage used in conjunction with other conventional medical treatments. Massage uses positioning, hands-on pressure and movement to promote relaxation and to loosen and increase motion in muscles.

    The January issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter lists potential benefits of massage:

    * Improved circulation, which can be helpful in wound healing after surgery, in improving blood pressure and in relieving fluid buildup in arms and legs.

    * The release of stress-reducing hormones -- such as endorphins -- that can increase energy and reduce the risk of illnesses caused by chronic stress.

    * Reduced pain, which can promote muscle relaxation and healing of muscles.

    * Improved range of motion, increased flexibility and reduced risk of injury.

    If massage sounds intriguing, ask your doctor if massage is safe for you. It isn’t always advisable if you have skin with open sores, active cancer or conditions such as severe varicose veins or phlebitis.

    Seek out an experienced professional. Training and certification vary widely, and licensing isn’t required in every state.

    Mayo Clinic Health Letter is an eight-page monthly newsletter of reliable, accurate and practical information on today’s health and medical news. To subscribe, please call toll free 800-333-9037, extension 9PR1

    Posted by Nancy at 11:41 PM | Comments (0)

    Can massage cure?

    January 16, 2005 [Skagit Valley Herald]
    By Hilary E. MacGregor Los Angeles Times

    You lie on the crisp white sheet of the massage table in semidarkness. The scent of almond oil fills the air. Then come the hands, gently kneading the necklace of knots that rings your back, your neck, your shoulders. You close your eyes, breathe deeply and let yourself relax. Beyond the pleasures of the moment, though, are there medical benefits to massage?

    Hospitals and medical clinics around the United States are beginning to integrate massage into patient care. Massage is currently the most common nontraditional therapy offered in U.S. hospitals, according to an American Hospital Association survey in 2003. The most common uses for massage in hospitals: helping patients cope with pain and stress, and as a therapeutic service for cancer and maternity patients.

    At Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va., cancer patients are offered therapeutic massage by one of eight trained therapists. Longmont United Hospital in Colorado has a massage therapist on staff around the clock for patients who need or request it. At Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, 11 massage therapists are on a staff team working with hundreds of patients admitted to the hospital or seen at its various clinics.

    And at the University of California-Los Angeles Center for East-West Medicine, a team of four therapists use massage to alleviate pain and symptoms for patients suffering from illnesses such as fibromyalgia, migraines and back pain.

    The National Institutes of Health is funding several studies to examine the medical benefits of massage. Previous studies by various organizations have found that massage can help reduce chronic pain, diminish anxiety and depression, and enhance immune function.

    A new survey by the American Massage Therapy Association, a professional organization, shows that nearly half of Americans have used massage therapy as a way to manage and relieve pain. The survey also found that healthcare providers are more likely than before to discuss the possible benefits of massage and to recommend it to their patients. And some health insurers have begun paying for the therapy, according to the survey.

    Still, many doctors remain skeptical of the research suggesting a medical benefit to massage, saying more rigorous studies are needed.
    But doctors, nurses and patients who have seen massage in action say that even if the benefits can't be demonstrated by large clinical studies, the anecdotal evidence is powerful.

    ‘‘Clearly there are medical benefits to massage,'' said Dr. Gregory P. Fontana, a cardiothoracic surgeon at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles who conducted a pilot study of heart patients to measure the effectiveness of nontraditional therapies, such as massage, in helping speed recover after surgery.

    Ninety-five percent of the 50 massage patients reported that massage was a ‘‘very important'' part of their recovery, Fontana said. Dr. Ka-Kit Hui, director of UCLA's East-West Center in Santa Monica, Calif., goes further: ‘‘Massage is a very important therapeutic approach which is underutilized and underappreciated. A lot of people think massage is good for aches and pains. But what we have found is that massage activates the body's own healing system.''

    The use of massage as a healing art dates back to about 4000 B.C., when the therapy was used in China and India. In this country, massage was commonly used by nurses up until the 1960s and 1970s to help ease patients' pain and help them sleep.

    But the advent of powerful prescription pain medications in recent decades has diminished the use of massage in medical settings — until fairly recently.

    Patients at UCLA'S East-West Center see a team made up of a Western-trained doctor, an acupuncturist and a massage therapist. Often referred by their physicians, many of the patients come to the center because traditional Western remedies, such as prescription drugs, have not proven effective for their ailments.

    About half of the center's patients receive some massage therapy as part of their treatment program, which may also include traditional medicine.

    On a recent morning, Anna McGuirk, 45, sat on the edge of a massage table in a hospital gown. About five years ago she began to experience migraines so severe that doctors gave her morphine and Demerol to ease the pain. Confined to bed three to four days a week, she was in danger of losing her nursing job.

    ‘‘The medical profession kind of pooh-poohs migraines,'' she says. ‘‘And I was losing half my life.''

    Her primary care doctor sent her to a neurologist, who put her on pain relievers and antidepressants. Nothing worked.

    Finally the neurologist referred her to the East-West Center, where she was treated by Dr. Jun Liang Yu, a Chinese-born doctor trained in Western medicine in Asia, who practices acupuncture and massage therapy at the center.

    ‘‘That was the first time anyone had touched my neck or shoulders'' in a medical setting, McGuirk said of her massage treatments with Yu. The UCLA therapists told her that her neck and shoulders were ‘‘as hard as wood.''

    ‘‘They told me I was getting no blood circulation to the brain. If there is no blood circulation there is no oxygen, and if there is no oxygen, of course you are going to get headaches.''

    As McGuirk lay on the table, Yu began to work her neck, back and shoulders. He did not press down hard on sore areas or acupressure points. Instead, it looked almost as if he were rolling her muscles.

    ‘‘We don't beat up muscles. We manipulate the muscles,'' Yu explained. ‘‘We are rolling the muscles back in place.''

    McGuirk has taken prescription medication, such as muscle relaxants, and made lifestyle changes, and now says her migraines occur only about once every three weeks.

    But she is convinced that massage had been a key factor in her improvement.

    Over time massage advocates hope that research that supports the safety, benefit and, perhaps, even the cost-effectiveness of medical massage will help persuade more hospitals to give it a try.

    Posted by Nancy at 11:28 PM | Comments (0)

    Recognizing and reporting child abuse workshop set

    Newport News, Newport Oregon

    Family Care Connection will present a training on Recognizing and Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 18 at OSU Extension Service Conference Room, 29 SE 2nd Street in Newport. This free workshop is open to child and respite care providers, and other childhood care and education professionals. Lynette Page from the DHS Child Welfare, Newport Branch will present the 2-hour class.

    In Oregon, this is a required training to become a Registered Family Child Care Provider. The training is also required for Certified Family Child Care Homes and for teachers and staff working with children in Certified Child Care Centers. Exempt providers listed with DHS who complete the class may become eligible to receive an enhanced reimbursement rate. A certificate of completion will be given to each participant. Pre-registration is required; call Family Care Connection at 265-2558.

    Posted by Nancy at 11:29 AM | Comments (0)

    Program gives women new lives

    Jan 15, 2005 [The Brunswick News]
    By By BJ Corbitt

    Cristal Morton's eyes light up when she starts talking about the future.

    "I'm excited," the 26-year-old says as she ticks off a list of her plans for the coming months and years. Her goals are simple enough. She wants to live with her three children again, become a certified nurse assistant and join a church.

    For now, though, all of that is in the future because Morton's past — a cycle of alcohol and drug abuse — has led her to spend the present as a resident patient at the Gateway Behavioral Health Services' women's residence unit in Darien.

    Morton has been living there since October and plans to graduate back into her life in Brunswick next month.

    The unit, which opened in July, has 16 beds for women who suffer from alcohol or drug addiction, as well as space for their children. Eighty-six women have been treated there since July.

    The unit is far from sterile, with cozy carpeting, a collection of cartoons on DVD for the younger residents and a kitchen area that appears lifted from an average suburban home serving to make the women and children feel as much at home as possible.

    A similar unit, with six beds for women, opened in Brunswick this month, but isn't able to accommodate children.

    "Women's needs have been neglected," said Onie Alexander, substance abuse director for Gateway and coordinator of both residence units.

    Alexander said the McIntosh County unit focuses on helping women improve all aspects of their lives. In addition to a 12-step program to treat substance abuse habits, the women are treated for other disorders they may have, such as depression, post traumatic stress disorder, lingering effects of domestic violence and other mental illnesses. The women are also instructed in spirituality and basic life skills like parenting, nutrition and finance.

    For Christina Deal, the nearly two months she's spent in the McIntosh County unit have provided her with help she couldn't find living in Savannah.

    "I'm 27 years old, and I've been involved in a world of abuse and alcohol and drugs since I was 12, and it's just kind of snowballed," she said. "I couldn't stay off drugs even knowing I was going to get drug tested. I couldn't do it."

    Deal says the help she's received through Gateway has given her the ability to live a clean and sober life. She completed the program Friday, and now has her chance to prove it.

    "I've never made a 24-hour period (clean) before in my life," she said.

    "I've been clean 51 days now. For me, that's a lifetime. I know what to do now if I want to stay clean."

    The program has different levels built in based on the needs of the women who are admitted. Women may stay as briefly as 30 days or as long as six months, Alexander said.

    By the time they leave, they're expected, at minimum, to have a suitable job and place to live. Sponsors who work with the women daily after their release from the program monitor their progress and provide any help they need.

    The units in Brunswick and Darien serve women in Glynn, McIntosh, Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Effingham, Liberty and Long counties.

    Alexander says watching realization and understanding dawn in the women who come across her path is a great reward.

    "When they get the insight, it's a whole other person," she said. "I think that's the best part of it."

    Posted by Nancy at 10:39 AM | Comments (0)

    Post Traumatic Stress - PTSD

    (Post Traumatic Stress often results from traumatic situations such as war, disasters, and childhood sexual abuse. Here is an article from the Tsunami zone.)

    From Santha Oorjitham

    KINNIYA (Sri Lanka), Jan 15 (Bernama) -- Nine-year-old A. Mujib dreams of his two sisters who were killed in the Dec 26 tsunami and wakes up crying.

    He shadows his 17-year-old brother A. Musammil closely at the Periakinniya displaced persons centre at Kinniya Central College National School in Sri Lanka's northeastern Trincomalee district.

    Their mother had already been pronounced dead and tied up to be taken for burial when they saw her toes moving and realised she was alive. She was taken to the hospital and has since recovered.

    Musammil is afraid to go back to his job as a fisherman until he is sure the sea is safe. He had to drop out of school after only one year to earn money for the family. Although he is still a teenager, he talks like a much older man.

    "I am the breadwinner for our family," he told Bernama. "I've already lost two sisters. If anything happens to me, what will happen to my family?"

    His disabled father can't work and his mother works as a cleaner about once a week. He also has a 15-year-old brother and another seven-year-old sister to look after.

    At the camp of 2,500 run by Kinniya Jammiyathul Ulama (KJU), there are no counsellors to listen to the children talk about their fears and their grief.

    Some local social workers arrange simple games for them while the children have improvised a slide out of a school desk and chair.

    Asked how he and his brother feel after the tragedy, Musammil shrugged. "What is there to think about? It's our destiny."

    The children at the centre could suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

    "We need counsellors," said KJU coordinator Saraf Din, who is also the principal of the college. "There are so many people living with grief."

    Women Empowerment and Social Welfare Minister Sumedha G. Jayasena announced yesterday that her ministry would send 120 trained counsellors to tsunami rehabilitation centres in Trincomalee, eastern Ampara and southern Hambantota, Matara and Galle, according to the "Daily News" today.

    Nearly 500 people in Kinniya were killed by the tsunami, which is about half of the deaths in Trincomalee district. One hundred and fifty women were widowed and 100 children orphaned. One hundred people are still missing.

    Water pipes were broken and water supply has not been restored to Kinniya, although some water is trucked in.

    The government has supplied food but Saraf said it is not enough. Survivors of the tsunami also need clothing but he said they would not wear used clothing for fear of disease.

    And whatever is sent should be on a large scale, for example, 5,000 sarungs, otherwise it would be difficult to distribute.

    The principal told a visiting Malaysian Red Crescent Society fact-finding team that the centre needs medication and first aid training.

    Meanwhile, the college cannot reopen until the tsunami survivors have moved to temporary sites elsewhere. It needs new computers, classroom furniture and toilets, which have all been damaged by the influx of 6,000 people at the height of the crisis.

    As for the two brothers, Mujib is waiting for school to start and needs new books and a school bag.

    "If I had a bicycle, I could go around selling vegetables as I did before," said Musammil.

    Posted by Nancy at 10:29 AM | Comments (0)

    Linda Greene to talk about Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome

    January 02, 2005 [San Marcos Record]

    Post Traumatic Stress Disorder touches the lives of many Americans every day.

    The Veterans' Administration and mental health agencies estimate that one in six veterans are affected by the disorder. Linda Greene hopes to shine a light on the problem and possible ways to address it

    when she speaks to local military veterans here this week.

    Greene will talk to the local Chapter 923 of the Vietnam Veterans of America Wednesday in the back dining room of Luby's Cafeteria. Dinner is at 6 p.m. with Greene's presentation at 7 p.m.

    Anyone interested is invited too attend the dinner and the presentation.

    "Like Agent Orange and our concern for P.O.W./M.I.A.s, the Vietnam Veterans of America has been concerned about the debilitating effect of P.T.S.D. on veterans and their families," said Rod Metzler, president of the local Vietnam veterans organization.

    Although the term Post Traumatic Stress Disorder became popular after the Vietnam Conflict, it was known as "shell shock" during World War I and World War II and "combat fatigue" in the Korean Conflict

    Post Traumatic Stress Disorder , however, is not limited to the military. It may occur in anyone having lived through a severely stressful situation and is recognized by the American Psychological Association.)

    Since 2000, Greene has held the position of the community director of DeGeorge at Union Station, a permanent housing facility for homeless veterans, a division of the Housing Corporation of Greater Houston.

    Prior to her directorship with "DeGeorge" Greene worked with the Department of Veterans Affairs Homeless Veterans program in housing for homeless.

    A former Red Cross worker during the Vietnam era, Greene has been a member of the Vietnam Veterans of America, Houston Chapter 343, since 1989. Her other affiliations include; Disabled American Veterans Auxiliary, American Legion Auxiliary and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary.

    She serves on the national advisory board of the Task Force for Homeless Veterans in Washington D.C. She is the founder and current president of Task Force for Houston Homeless Veterans.

    She serves as the State Special Advisor from the Texas State Council of Vietnam Veterans of America for veterans incarcerated for the past 10 years and regularly attends weekend meetings and coordinates workshops in various state prisons with veterans incarcerated.

    Among her awards are the "Navajo Nation Medal for Valor" in 1993 in recognition of work with homeless veterans in Windowrock, Arizona. She received the "Hear O' Israel International Award."

    Greene was inducted into the "Chapel of Four Chaplains Legion of Honor" and in 2003, received their "National Humanitarian Award."

    Posted by Nancy at 10:23 AM | Comments (0)

    January 15, 2005

    Child Abuse Task Force Reveals Findings

    Salt Lake City [KSL News]

    After months of investigation and study, the Utah Child Abuse Prevention Task Force has finished it's work.

    The Utah Child Abuse Prevention Task Force is delivering its findings today. Members of the task force include political figures, medical professionals, and citizens like Lillian Miller who has two children that were abused while in daycare. Miller says, "Once there's a victim, everybody becomes a victim, and I just would not want this to happen to anybody else."

    Task force Co-Chair Doctor Edward Clark says all those working against child abuse must work together better to prevent child abuse from happening. "It is first for the citizens of Utah to support al Utah parents to raise safe, healthy, and successful children."

    The committee is also urging lawmakers to enact what they call a Kids' Action Plan. The plan includes seven points, and committee members say if they are implemented they would prevent abuse from happening.

    Utah Legislators say they have bills currently being drafted to re-organize the Utah Children's Trust Fund, which will be open to all organizations working to prevent child abuse.

    Posted by Nancy at 04:33 PM | Comments (0)

    Effects of child abuse can linger forever

    By Cynthia Beaudette [Muscatine Journal]

    MUSCATINE, Iowa - On Dec. 19, 2004, a Muscatine toddler went from living the life of a 2-year-old girl to becoming a grim statistic in Muscatine's record books.

    Melinda Enriquez's daughter, Leeanna Garcia-Enriquez, died of injuries sustained during an alleged beating that day. Leeanna's sister, 3-year-old Breeanna, was also injured. She remains hospitalized in Iowa City.

    Enriquez's boyfriend at the time, Angel Garcia-Miranda, 22, awaits trial in the Muscatine County Jail after being charged with first-degree murder and willful injury.

    According to the Iowa Department of Human Services, Muscatine County ranked 12th among Iowa's 99 counties in confirmed cases of child abuse with 343 cases in 2003.

    The reason for the county's higher numbers isn't clear. However, one thing is certain: the effects of the abuse don't end when the abuse stops. Society also pays a price for the mistreatment of our nation's youngest residents.

    Effects on the child

    How and how much young children remember about incidents of violence is not easy to determine because children don't always have the capacity to articulate or communicate their feelings.

    "It varies by child," said Rachel Riley-Smock, program supervisor of the Sexual Assault Domestic Abuse Advocacy Program and Domestic Abuse Advocacy Shelter. "Some people have memories of when they are 3 years old, others repress those memories."

    But witnessing abuse impacts a child of any age.

    "Small children are very aware of tension and constant uneasiness," said Riley-Smock. "And they are very responsive to the emotions of others."

    Children who have experienced domestic violence respond in a variety of ways as time goes by.

    "What we talk about in domestic violence is post-traumatic stress," said Riley-Smock, who has been working with the victims of abuse for 16 years. "The stress that comes from living in a war zone."

    Riley-Smock said children who have been exposed to domestic violence tend to be on guard and constantly vigilant as to what may happen, whether they were physically or emotionally abused.

    "Some become withdrawn and don't speak," said Riley-Smock. "There's a lot of shame associated with domestic violence."

    Emotions that can arise from witnessing acts of abuse include a sense of guilt, because the child could not stop the act. Other children may wonder why they survived when a sibling did not, Riley-Smock said.

    "Some children don't sleep well, they may have learning problems and some kids act out," said Riley-Smock.

    Child abuse and crime

    The long-term effects of child abuse can take on many forms, including an increased risk of becoming involved in criminal activity as a teen.

    Prevent Child Abuse Iowa officials refer to a 1996 study using juvenile and criminal court records from a Midwestern city. The study compared 908 children who were abused from 1967-71 to 667 children from that same city who had not been abused.

    Criminal records of the two groups in both 1988 and 1994 showed 27 percent of abused children were arrested for juvenile offenses, compared to 17 percent of the children who had not been abused.

    The financial costs

    Not only does child abuse and domestic violence harm young victims, research shows an economic impact that affects most Americans

    According to a 2001 report from Prevent Child Abuse America, agencies in the United States spends about $94 billion annually in response to child abuse, which amounts to $1,461.66 per family per year and about $258 million each day.

    That report, based on information provided by the U.S. Census Bureau and the federal departments of Health and Human Services, Justice, and others, also estimates the U.S. spends more than $24.3 billion annually on the direct effects of child abuse, with $14 billion going to the child welfare system.

    Hope in the numbers?

    Although Muscatine County has a high proportion of child abuse reported compared to most other Iowa counties, the numbers may reveal some hopeful news.

    Stephen Scott, executive director of Prevent Child Abuse Iowa, said officials have looked at the poverty rate and the number of people who use methamphetamine and didn't find either of these sub groups to have high enough numbers to account for the relatively high number of reported and confirmed cases of child abuse.

    Scott said the high rate could be a reflection of the number of people willing to report suspected cases of abuse. Scott said Muscatine-area residents may feel more of a connectedness with their community and believe something will be done if they do make a report.

    "One reason is the agency itself," said Scott, referring to the DHS. "They may be seen as more responsive and people may report abuse more often." Scott said local law-enforcement agencies are also key in gaining the public's confidence when it comes to believing there will be a response to reports.

    "I'd like to think all the work we've done on awareness has led to more people reporting domestic violence," said Riley-Smock. "People know there is help out there and the local law-enforcement agencies will respond."

    Scott said most cases of abuse are linked to neglect and about 13 to 14 percent of reports refer to physical abuse.

    How to help

    Scott said there are more ways people can make their communities safer for children.

    "Let's say a next-door neighbor seems stressed with the role of parenting," said Scott. "Offering a listening ear or shoulder to lean on can be as important as a call later on."

    When physical violence is observed or a child appears to have been assaulted, these instances should be reported, Scott said.

    Riley-Smock said it's important to remember that domestic violence can occur in any home.

    "It can happen to anyone of any religion, age or sexual orientation," said Riley-Smock. "It happens to the strongest and most intelligent women. Unfortunately, the children are always the ones who suffer."

    Contact Cynthia Beaudette at:563-263-2331 Ext. 323 orcynthia.beaudette@muscatinejournal.com


    A list of resources and contacts in the Louisa and Muscatine County area for prevention and reporting of child abuse:

    Prevent Child Abuse Iowa: 800-237-1815

    Family Resources Crisis Hotline: 563-288-0220

    Department of Human Services, Muscatine County: 563-263-9302

    Department of Human Services, Louisa County 319-754-4622 (or toll free 1-800-423-4724 to Des Moines County DHS or call Muscatine County DHS)

    Healthy Families, referral information: 1-800-369-2229

    Suspected child abuse can be reported by calling 1-800-362-2178

    Posted by Nancy at 12:10 PM | Comments (0)

    Needs of troubled girls getting more attention

    January 12, 2005
    By Monica Mendoza

    PHOENIX -- Collett spent her teen years moving from one shelter to another after she told state officials she was sexually abused at home.

    She lived in at least a dozen from ages 16 to 18, and each time she landed in a new facility there were new counselors and new rules. She never fit in.

    "I wish they would have had a group home that was specifically geared toward girls who were abused," said Collett, 21, of Tempe, Ariz. "I wanted something where people understood why I was there."

    But most juvenile justice, mental health and child-welfare programs aren't designed for girls.

    Boys represent the majority of children in the juvenile justice system, and behavior management programs, which use consequences and rewards, are better suited for them. Girls respond better to one-on-one relationships with counselors, trust and therapy, experts say.

    "Girls have been getting the short shrift for a long time," said Marie Dils, policy manager for the Arizona Office of Policy, Strategic Diversity and Equity.

    Dils and other Arizona child advocates are leading a national effort to restructure juvenile justice programs for girls, radically shifting the way girls are treated.

    This week, more than 400 counselors, youth advocates, probation officers and group-home operators from across the country will meet in Scottsdale, Ariz., to kick off the National Girls Initiative, a conference that aims to shape programs and policies that affect services for girls.

    The Girls Initiative is calling for gender-specific programs for girls in the areas of sex education and sexuality, vocational training and education and in mental health services.

    "Times are changing," said Maria Garin-Jones, director of youth services for the Child Welfare League of America, a co-sponsor of the conference. "The needs of girls have changed."

    A girl may drink or take drugs to hide the pain of sexual abuse. She may cut herself because of depression or post-traumatic stress syndrome connected to abuse. But she is generally punished for her delinquency and not helped to recover from the abuse.

    In recent years, the number of girls across the country in the juvenile justice system is on the rise, sparking the discussion about why girls are being arrested. In 2000, girls made up 28 percent of all juvenile arrests, up from 19 percent in 1990, according to the Child Welfare League of America.

    Researchers studying girls in detention found that more than 80 percent had a history of trauma, with at least one time in a psychiatric hospital, most likely for a suicide attempt. In Arizona, about half of the 16,000 girls in the state's court system were picked up for running away.

    In a recent report by the Girls' Justice Initiative, girls in detention in five states said their biggest frustration was over "dead time" spent in detention with no access to mental health services.

    Girls know they need help and start acting out when they don't get it, said Alyssa Rapisarda, clinical supervisor at the Florence Crittenton group home in Phoenix. The 40-bed facility is divided into four groups so counselors work with the same group of girls every day. It's an attempt to build relationships. But time is always limited, and therapy often short-term.

    Collett said she felt like she was being punished for being abused. She was depressed. She cut and burned herself.

    "I was confused," she said. "I just felt like I was a bad child."

    She attended group counseling aimed at girls who drank alcohol and took drugs. At one facility, she took mandatory drug tests every week. But Collett never drank or took drugs.

    Today, she works for a vocational recovery program for adults with mental illness. But the road has been tougher and longer than it needed to be, she said.

    "It's taken me a long time to figure out that I'm not a bad person," Collett said

    Posted by Nancy at 11:58 AM | Comments (0)

    Child rapist gets 15 years

    January 15, 2005 [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]
    By Torsten Ove

    Richard Carroll, of Grove City, was sentenced yesterday to nearly 15 years in prison for sexually abusing an 11-year-old girl with the help of her drug-addicted mother.

    But before Senior U.S. District Judge William Standish imposed the 175-month term, a prosecutor revealed yet another twist in an already twisted tale of rape and child pornography in which three adults preyed on the girl in Penn Hills and Sharpsburg.

    When Carroll was in jail in July 2003, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Tina Miller, another inmate said Carroll tried to hire him to kill the girl, her foster mother and other witnesses.

    The inmate said Carroll handed him a piece of paper with the girl's name and address and offered him $18,000 for the murder. Authorities had to move the family to another house.

    For the girl, now 16, it was one more torment in a life of abuse that once nearly ended with a suicide attempt as the case wound through court.

    "The child victim has touched all of our hearts; she's really one of the bravest people I've ever met," said Miller, a veteran sex-crimes prosecutor. "This child has had to fight her entire life for everything she has ... The beautiful years of her life were taken from her by her mother and Mr. Carroll."

    Miller, whom Carroll had previously threatened to murder, ripped into him as someone with "no redeeming qualities whatsoever" and ridiculed his "crocodile tears" in pleading for mercy before the judge.

    Carroll, 39, said he suffers from mental problems but told the judge he felt remorse.

    "I just feel bad in general," he said. "I hope you're lenient."

    The term was not the maximum Miller asked for, but it was more than federal Public Defender Penn Hackney requested. The debate was more convoluted than usual because of the decision this week by the U.S. Supreme Court to make federal sentencing guidelines advisory rather than mandatory, allowing judges more discretion.

    The sentence ends one of the most disturbing child-abuse cases prosecuted in recent years in U.S. District Court here.

    Last year, the girl testified during a sentencing hearing for her mother, Sharon Dorsch, that her mother stood by and did nothing while Carroll sexually assaulted her over a two-year period beginning in 2000. Dorsch, a 44-year-old cocaine addict from Penn Hills, got the maximum of three years in prison.

    In April, she and Carroll had pleaded guilty.

    Their former landlord in Penn Hills, Gerald E. Goebert, 50, who had a conviction for sexually abusing his stepdaughter, also was part of the case. He was released in March after serving 27 months in prison for possession of nude photos of Dorsch's daughter, which he got from Carroll.

    Carroll sexually abused the girl at a house on Howard Street in Penn Hills by drugging her with Dorsch's Valium pills, forcing her to have sex with him and making her watch him have sex with Dorsch.

    He also took nude photos of the girl at a Sharpsburg apartment where he sometimes stayed.

    Dorsch allowed the abuse to go on and even told the girl to cooperate because, she said, she was addicted to drugs and was herself being abused by Carroll.

    Authorities first became involved with Carroll and Dorsch in 2001, when she called Penn Hills police to ask that Carroll be removed from her house because he was abusive. She obtained an emergency protection-from-abuse order to keep him away from the house. When he came back, officers arrested him.

    Later the FBI and U.S. postal inspectors started investigating.

    Carroll had lived with Dorsch off-and-on from 1999 through 2001. During that time, Carroll abused the girl repeatedly with Dorsch's help.

    The abuse ended in August 2001 after Carroll raped the girl in the bathroom, beat her and threatened to kill her if she told anyone.

    Miller told the judge yesterday that the girl is an "extraordinary person." After Dorsch gave birth to a child fathered by Carroll, Dorsch was too strung out on drugs to raise the baby, so the girl essentially took over the role as parent.

    She is now in school, has a part-time job and is planning to go to college.

    Last year, Miller said she asked her if she could ever forgive her mother. She told the judge the girl told her, "Right now, I can't forgive her. But someday I hope I can."

    Posted by Nancy at 05:21 AM | Comments (0)

    More abuse allegations surface against priest

    January 14, 2005 Fairbanks, AK [News Miner]

    Three more men have stepped forward with allegations of sexual abuse against the Rev. Francis X. Nawn.

    The attorney for Jack Does 2-4 filed a civil suit Thursday in Bethel Superior Court seeking damages from the Fairbanks Diocese for allowing Nawn, who is believed to be deceased, to prey on children as he ministered in Southwestern Alaska.

    Jack Doe 1 came forward last month with abuse allegations against Nawn and another deceased Jesuit priest, the Rev. Segundo Llorente. Jack Does 2-4 accuse only Nawn. The defendants in the suit are the Catholic Bishop of Northern Alaska; the Society of Jesus, Oregon Province; and the Society of Jesus, Alaska.

    "I just sort of think this is like all the rest," said Bishop Donald Kettler, who wasn't contacted by the victims prior to the filing of the suit. "We're trying to work with as many as we need to. We're trying to treat everyone fairly and justly."

    The three new complaints bring the number of people claiming abuse in the sprawling Fairbanks Diocese to 59. Four priests--Nawn, Llorente, James Poole and Jules Convert--face accusations from 23 people. Only Poole, 81, is still alive. He lives in Spokane, Wash.

    Another man, Joseph C. Lundowski, a likely deceased church volunteer with a disputed history, is accused by 34 men of the most serious sexual abuse.

    Fourteen of the 18 men accusing Convert of abuse have settled with the Jesuit's Oregon Province, while two have settled with the Fairbanks Diocese. And Patricia Hess, who accused Poole of abuse, settled with the diocese and never filed a legal claim.

    Terms of the settlements haven't been disclosed, though attorney Ken Roosa said the Oregon Province agreed to pay for the college education of some of the children of Convert accusers in addition to a cash payment. Jack Does 1-4 are asking for damages of $100,000 on each claim. Roosa and attorneys who represent a victim customarily receive a percentage of any settlement or trial jury award.

    Groseclose said church officials have met with about seven of those claiming abuse. Jack Doe 1 has a meeting with Kettler later this month.

    "Now that there are three new Jack Does, we can extend an invitation to them," said attorney Robert Groseclose, who represents the diocese.

    Roosa, an Anchorage-based lawyer who represents 58 of the 59 people making claims, said previous meetings have been disappointing for his clients.

    "We'll go through with it because it's the right thing to do," Roosa said, "but I'm not expecting much out of it."

    When asked why, Roosa responded: "They've never been helpful. The bishop has never said anything that was particularly helpful."

    The claims filed by Jack Does 2-4 are similar to those of Jack Doe 1. At the time of the abuse, all four men lived in Sheldon Point. State law allows the men to make their claims anonymously in civil court.

    Jack Doe 1 accused Nawn of abusing him between the ages of 13 and 14 while Nawn visited Sheldon Point from his normal duties in Holy Cross in 1963 and '64. On more than five separate occasions, according to the complaint, Nawn invited the boy to his quarters to spend the night then abused him.

    Jack Doe 2-4 all said they were abused between the years of 1970 and '74 in the same village, which sits on the Black River in the Yukon River Delta. All were under the age of 12 and were sexually abused during what all three men call "wrestling matches."

    The men also said Nawn had the boys lay on top of girls in his living quarters and simulate sexual intercourse while he watched. In turn, the suit said, he told each boy it would be a sin to tell anyone about the abuse and gave the child candy.

    "Every molester seems to develop a pattern or practice that works for him or her ...," Roosa said. "Once they hit upon something that works, they do it again and again."

    No other men have come forward with claims against Llorente. Jack Doe 1's complaint said others were also molested by the priest at the same time he was.

    Each of the claims against Nawn indicate the presence of others at the time of some of the abuse. While no one else has come forward, Roosa believes there are more living victims who might file suit.

    "I know of over half a dozen other victims," Roosa said. "I have not spoken to them yet. Jack Doe 2 and 3 have given me information about more victims."

    Posted by Nancy at 05:05 AM | Comments (0)

    Ex-Priest Gets Additional Prison Time for Abuse

    January 14, 2005 [AP]

    PHOENIX - A former Catholic priest already in prison was sentenced to an additional 12 years in prison Friday after he pleaded guilty to child molestation and sexual conduct with a minor.

    Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Ronald Reinstein also gave Lawrence Joseph Lovell, who pleaded in August, five years probation.

    The charges involve an altar boy at Saint Anthony in Phoenix about 20 years ago.

    In March, Lovell was sentenced to 14 years for charges stemming from another case of child molestation that involved a boy at Sacred Heart Parish in Prescott, where Lovell was a priest in the late 1970s

    Posted by Nancy at 05:00 AM | Comments (0)

    Covington diocese settles sex-abuse lawsuit

    January 15, 2005 [AP]

    LEXINGTON, Ky. — The Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington has reached a settlement with a Lexington woman who sued over alleged sexual abuse. Kay Montgomery said she was molested by a priest in the 1960s. She declined to disclose the amount of the settlement.

    "The case was never about money," Montgomery's attorney, Al Grasch, said. "The case was about finding out about what the church knew and what they did to conceal it."

    Edward Fritsch was the priest identified in Montgomery's lawsuit, but he was not named as a defendant. Fritsch was sent by the Covington Diocese in 1966 to the Owensboro Diocese, where he was assigned to teach at Owensboro Catholic High School. Montgomery said he abused her when she was a ninth-grade student there.

    Montgomery refused to agree to a settlement that required her to keep details of the case confidential.

    Fritsch was assigned to St. William Church in Lancaster after being ordained in 1965.

    Soon after, Fritsch's supervisor, Father Ralph Beiting, wrote in a letter that he had discovered that Fritsch had had "contact with about nine to ten girls." The letter was filed as part of the case.

    Fritsch was sent to a psychiatric hospital in Louisville for four months of treatment.

    Upon Fritsch's discharge in December 1965, Dr. James Wygal wrote that Fritsch had "tried to become involved with student nurses and some female patients." Wygal recommended that Fritsch be removed from the priesthood "if any more acute episodes occur."

    In January 1966, court records show, Fritsch was assigned to a church in Fort Mitchell, but by June of that year he was removed and later suspended after a married woman said he took "sexual liberties" with her.

    Fritsch was sent to the Owensboro Diocese after that. Later, after Montgomery transferred to the Academy of the Immaculate Conception in Ferdinand, Ind., she said Fritsch continued the abuse.

    Every week, she said, he would come to the school and pick her up, drive her off campus and sexually molest her. She said Fritsch told her that her family would be excommunicated if she told.

    Fritsch was removed from duty in 1967, when a Northern Kentucky woman said she was pregnant with his child, according to documents in the case.

    He left the priesthood and married in 1969.

    Posted by Nancy at 04:47 AM | Comments (0)

    Reno man convicted of sexual assault, abuse of daughter

    January 14, 2005 Reno, NV [AP]

    A 42-year-old Reno man has been convicted of sexually assaulting and abusing his seven-year-old daughter.

    A Washoe County district court jury found Roberto Gonzalez guilty Thursday of two counts of sexual assault on a child and one count of child abuse causing substantial bodily harm.

    Washoe County District Attorney Richard Gammick says the child abuse charge stems from the fact that Gonzalez transmitted genital herpes to the child. He says the crimes occurred last April,

    Gonzalez faces up to life in prison with little chance for parole over the next 50 years. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

    Posted by Nancy at 04:41 AM | Comments (0)

    Plea entered in child abuse case

    January 14, 2005 [Marietta Times]
    By Kate York

    A Waterford woman pleaded guilty Thursday to child abuse charges that came to light during the investigation of her infant daughter's murder in 2003

    Alicia Hanson, 20, of 18189 State Route 339, pleaded guilty to attempted child endangerment, a fourth-degree felony, as part of a plea agreement reached with Washington County prosecutor Jim Schneider. The original second-degree felony charge of felonious assault was thrown out as part of the agreement, as were third-degree charges of perjury.
    The charges were all in connection to the murder of Hanson's 2-month-old daughter, Falicia Guidry, who died Nov. 27, 2003, from a blow to the head. Falicia's father, Leopold Patrick Guidry, was convicted of the crime and sentenced to life in prison in August, after telling investigators he struck the child on the head because she was crying during an important part of a movie. He is seeking a new trial on the charge.

    Schneider said the plea agreement with Hanson was a way to ensure that she had a felony conviction on her record.

    "The felonious assault charge would have been tougher to prove and the perjury charge would have carried a similar punishment to the endangerment," Schneider said. "We wanted to get her for something, and this way we were certain of getting a felony record so that if she's in trouble down the road, the penalty will be stiffer."

    Hanson will be sentenced by Washington County Common Pleas Judge Susan Boyer at 8 a.m. March 2 and could receive a maximum of 18 months in jail and a $5,000 fine. The maximum sentence for the original assault charge would have been eight years in prison and a $15,000 fine.

    Signs of abuse were discovered by doctors after Falicia was admitted to the hospital with the head injury that killed her. During Guidry's murder trial, Hanson admitted to hitting and shaking her baby.

    "The medical professionals who treated and examined her were all convinced the rib injuries they found were several weeks old and not the cause of death," Schneider said. "If a jury had found that she had struck her child but it didn't cause serious harm, we would have lost the felonious assault conviction."

    Hanson has been in jail on $50,000 bond since September and will remain there after Thursday's hearing.

    She came to court handcuffed, wearing an orange jumpsuit, and spent nearly half an hour before the hearing laughing and talking with her attorney, Nancy Brum.

    The plea agreement may be helpful to Guidry in his attempt to get a new trial, said Guidry's attorney, Janet McKim.

    Guidry filed a motion for a new trial in August after McKim received a letter from Hanson confessing that she had killed the baby. At a hearing to determine whether Guidry would get a new trial, Hanson then testified that she had not written the letter and did not recognize it.

    She was charged with perjury after investigators found evidence in her home that she had sent the letter and recorded phone conversations between Guidry and Hanson while he was in the Washington County Jail included Hanson's confession that she had written the letter.

    Guidry's attempt for a new trial will resume once the taped conversations are made into transcripts.

    "The (plea agreement) is a bonus for (Guidry)," McKim said Thursday. "While she was facing perjury charges, we couldn't put her back on the stand but now we can. At least now we can find an answer and (Guidry) can get on with his life."

    Schneider said the state is not going to pursue murder charges against Hanson unless she confesses again to killing her daughter.

    Brum advised Hanson Thursday that she may have to appear in court for Guidry's proceedings.

    "I'll be there with you," she told her client before saying emphatically, "but you are going to have to tell the truth."

    Posted by Nancy at 04:33 AM | Comments (0)

    January 14, 2005

    Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

    January 12, 2005 KidsHealth.org

    Sixteen-year-old Samantha is always exhausted. For months she's had swollen glands and weakness. She has difficulty concentrating in school, frequently has headaches, and finds it hard to get out of bed most mornings. Although Samantha's parents suspect she's involved in too many activities, they have also begun to worry because her grades have plummeted and her symptoms have worsened.

    When Samantha and her parents visit the doctor to try to find out what's wrong, the doctor takes a detailed history of Samantha's symptoms, paying careful attention to how long they have been going on. After a full physical examination and several blood tests, it is determined that Samantha has a condition known as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).

    What Is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
    Chronic fatigue syndrome is a noncontagious disease that was first recognized as a physical illness in the 1980s and remains the subject of a great deal of controversy. Even now, as increasing numbers of people are being diagnosed with the disease, there are still many people inside and outside the health professions who doubt its existence or maintain that it's a psychological ailment.

    But several years of research have confirmed that CFS is indeed a physical illness - just one that's not fully understood. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (news - web sites) (CDC), it is estimated that as many as half a million people in the United States have a CFS-like condition.

    The hallmark of CFS is symptoms of overwhelming fatigue and weakness that make it extremely difficult to perform routine and daily tasks, like getting out of bed, dressing, and eating. The fatigue does not get better with bed rest. The illness severely impacts school, work, and pleasurable activities, causing physical and emotional symptoms that can last for months or even years.

    Chronic fatigue syndrome is more common in females than males and it affects all racial and ethnic groups. Most people experience this illness between the ages of 20 and 40, but the disorder also occurs in adolescents. A CFS-like illness has also been determined to occur in children younger than 12. The actual number of children and teens affected by CFS illness is unknown.

    What Causes Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
    The cause of CFS is not yet known. Current research is exploring the possibility that people with CFS may have a dysfunction of the immune and central nervous systems. Scientists are also studying various metabolic abnormalities and risk factors (including genetic predisposition, age, sex, prior illness, environment, and stress) that may affect the development and course of the disease.

    Some researchers have suggested that a virus causes CFS, but this theory has not been proven. At one time, researchers thought that Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) played a role in the development of CFS, but many people who are diagnosed with CFS have no evidence of EBV infection. However, a viral cause for CFS is still suspected because the symptoms of CFS often mimic a viral infection, such as chronic infectious mononucleosis. Researchers today are hard at work trying to prove a possible viral link to CFS.

    Other theories suggest that one of the following factors may be to blame for CFS:

    iron-poor blood (anemia)
    low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
    environmental allergies
    a body-wide yeast infection
    psychiatric or neurological problems

    Because the symptoms of CFS are so vague and can vary widely from person to person, the CDC developed a detailed case definition in 1993 to help doctors diagnose the condition. According to that definition, a person must have both of the following in order to be diagnosed with CFS: a person must have severe, chronic fatigue for at least 6 months or longer, with other known medical conditions having been excluded by a doctor's diagnosis, and at the same time, an individual must have four or more of the following symptoms:

    forgetfulness or difficulty concentrating
    sore throat
    tender lymph nodes in the neck or armpit
    muscle pain or multi-joint pain with swelling or redness
    headaches of a new type, pattern, or severity
    unrefreshing sleep and vague feelings of illness or depression after exerting oneself, lasting more than 24 hours

    In addition, any of the above symptoms associated with the fatigue must have occurred for at least 6 or more months in a row. Also, continuous fatigue should have been the first noticeable symptom of illness.

    Other symptoms of CFS can include mild fever, blurry vision, chills, night sweats, diarrhea, and fluctuations in appetite and weight.

    Difficulty Diagnosing CFS
    Chronic fatigue syndrome is hard to diagnose because a single diagnostic test does not exist, and there is no identifiable cause of the illness. Another problem is that symptoms of CFS often mimic other disorders such as viral infections, kidney disease, cardiac disease, depression, and neurological illnesses. CFS is a diagnosis of exclusion, which means that doctors first have to make sure that a person's fatigue and other symptoms are not caused by another illness, a sleep disorder, or hormone problems such as hypothyroidism.

    "We all get tired, depressed, and run down," says Joel D. Klein, MD, an infectious diseases specialist. But CFS is different from normal feelings of fatigue and low energy. "Symptoms of CFS often develop suddenly and include a strong, noticeable fatigue which comes and goes or remains for months," Dr. Klein explains.

    Posted by Nancy at 06:44 AM | Comments (0)

    Second church volunteer arrested in child abuse probe

    January 10, 2005

    METHUEN, Mass.— A second person faced charges in connection with a child abuse investigation at a Mormon church in Methuen, police said.

    Paquette is a volunteer librarian at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Methuen.

    Police said Peter A. Paquette, 59, of Andover, was arrested at his home on Friday. He pleaded innocent in Lawrence District Court to a charge of failing to register as a sex offender.

    Last Tuesday, Kevin Curlew, 43, of Dracut, also a church volunteer, was arrested and charged with sexually assaulting the 9-year-old son of a church member.

    Police said Curlew and Paquette are friends, and both were placed in charge of monitoring children while adults attended church meetings.

    Police said they received a tip last week that Paquette had not registered with the state Sex Offender Registry Board, a felony with a penalty of up to five years in prison.

    In two separate cases in the 1970s and 1980s, Paquette was convicted in Somerville and Chelsea district courts of indecent assault and battery on a child, according to Methuen police Lt. Michael Wnek.

    Curlew was held on $25,000 cash bail on charges of indecent assault and battery on a person under 14, enticement of a child, assault and battery, reckless endangerment of a child, and kidnapping.

    He was arrested after police investigated a report that Curlew had assaulted the boy at the church, Wnek said. Wnek said the boy is now the only known victim, but are looking into whether there are more.

    Posted by Nancy at 06:12 AM | Comments (0)

    Transient faces 16 charges of child sexual abuse

    January 14, 2005

    Prescott, AZ – A 20-year-old transient is in custody on 16 charges of sexually abusing children and he may be facing additional charges, according to authorities.

    Marco Antonio Ybarra faces five counts of sexual conduct with a minor, three counts of child molestation and eight counts of indecent exposure.

    Det. Clyde Bentley of the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office said his agency began its investigation after a man reported that his 14-year-old daughter might be having a sexual relationship with Ybarra.

    He said the investigation revealed six other victims, all girls between the ages of 8 and 14. He said they are all related to each other.

    Bentley said that Ybarra befriended the 14-year-old victim at Prescott Live before the night club closed its doors, adding that the girl’s father allowed him to stay in their house in Paulden.

    During that time, Ybarra committed the alleged crimes, Bentley said, adding that he believes that there are more victims, including under-age boys, who have not reported it to the police.

    Bentley said Ybarra has lived in the tri-city area for some time and he attended the ACHIEVE Academy. He said he is investigating whether Ybarra recruited some other victims from the school because he believes that the suspect may have been sexually involved with other minors previously

    Posted by Nancy at 05:22 AM | Comments (0)

    January 13, 2005

    Paper Lace Star Sentenced over Child Porn

    January 14, 2005

    Former PAPER LACE bassist JOHN CHAMBERS will be added to Britain's sex offenders' register after pleading guilty to possessing child pornography.

    Video tapes containing indecent images were found in the 54-year-old rocker's Nottingham, England home during a search by police last August 2004

    The musician was sentenced this week to 200 hours community punishment and five years on the offenders' register.

    Nottingham Crown Court JUDGE DUDLEY BENNETT said, "Neither the public nor the courts take kindly to people who abuse children and photographing young children in this way is an abuse of children just as much as if there was physical touching because it can lead to their corruption. It would not happen unless people wanted to watch disgusting images of this type.

    "There is a huge amount of mitigation in your case. You have never been in any trouble in your life. You are in poor health."

    Paper Lace had several hits in the 1970s, including number one single Billy Don't be a Hero.

    Posted by Nancy at 10:28 PM | Comments (0)

    Man sentenced for abuse of minor

    January 13, 2005 Rapid City, SD

    An Eagle Butte man will serve 14 years in prison for sexually abusing a child.

    Alan Red Fox Sr., 48, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Charles Kornmann to 14 years in custody followed by five years of supervised release. Red Fox was originally indicted on four counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a minor and one count of incest. He later pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated sexual abuse of a minor.

    The charges were related to the abuse of a child at Eagle Butte between Jan. 1, 2004, and Feb. 6, 2004, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office.

    Red Fox was immediately taken into custody to begin serving his sentence.

    Posted by Nancy at 10:18 PM | Comments (0)

    Jackson transcripts detail child abuse, ABC reports

    January 13, 2005 [AP]

    LOS ANGELES — Michael Jackson’s accuser told a grand jury that the pop star closed his eyes tightly while molesting him on a bed, according to an ABC News report that quotes from transcripts of the testimony.

    The boy described Jackson’s alleged crimes in graphic detail, according to the network, which said its “Primetime Live” program reviewed more than 1,900 pages of testimony.

    Details on the transcripts, which have not been released, were reported Thursday on ABC’s Web site and quoted on “Good Morning America.” A fuller report was planned Thursday evening on “Primetime Live.”

    Defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. declined to comment to ABC

    Jackson attorney Brian Oxman told The Associated Press that the defense could not comment because of a gag order the judge has imposed on the case.

    The accuser told prosecutors who questioned him before the Santa Barbara County grand jury that Jackson never spoke to him during the alleged abuse and the two didn’t discuss it later, ABC reported.

    According to transcripts, the boy said that when he was molested, he looked over at the pop star and “his eyes were like squinching really tight.”

    Jackson was indicted in April on multiple counts of molestation and a count of conspiracy involving child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion.

    Some counts accuse him of administering alcohol to further child molestation. The accuser, who had cancer and lost a kidney when a surgeon removed a tumor, said he told Jackson he shouldn’t drink alcohol because of his medical condition, according to the transcripts.

    “And so it harms my kidney for I drink that stuff,” the accuser was quoted as saying. “But he would just say, ’It’s OK.’ And he would just keep on telling me to drink.”

    Normally, grand jury transcripts are made public in California 10 days after they’re received by a defendant. But the judge has kept the Jackson transcripts sealed, along with most other documents in the case.

    Jury selection in the case begins Jan. 31. Pretrial hearings have been set for Jan. 21 and Jan. 27 to consider issues such as whether a child-abuse expert can testify and what should be included on the questionnaire to be given to jurors.

    Posted by Nancy at 10:09 PM | Comments (0)

    Jackson judge won't hold hearing on alleged prior abuse in secret

    January 13, 2005
    Paul Chavez, Associated Press Writer

    The judge in the Michael Jackson child-molestation case has ruled that arguments over admissibility of evidence about past allegations of sex abuse will not be held in secret.

    The ruling Wednesday by Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville was a victory for the news media and the prosecution, which both opposed a defense motion to hold a hearing on the issue in chambers.

    Melville said he will schedule the arguments over admission of past abuse allegations after the jury is selected. He also said that if the evidence is admitted into the trial it would be presented to the jury after the prosecution presents its core case on the current allegations.

    "I've had a bad experience as a judge. I once allowed evidence of this type and did not require the actual evidence first," Melville said, noting that he had to grant a new trial in that case.

    The judge told defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. that his decision could affect Mesereau's opening statement to the jury. Melville asked him to consider options that may include waiting to deliver his opening statement until after the prosecution has presented its case.

    Jackson was not present Wednesday but he is expected when jury selection begins Jan. 31.

    Media attorney Theodore Boutrous Jr. praised Melville's ruling that kept courtroom doors open for the hearings. The prosecution had supported keeping the hearing open, noting that the defense, while arguing that the hearings might prejudice the jury pool, has not expressed such concern on other issues that could be just as prejudicial.

    Jackson, 46, is charged with plying a boy with alcohol and molesting him. He has pleaded not guilty.

    Another court document shows the judge has ordered television correspondent Martin Bashir to come to California to testify in the trial on March 1. Bashir produced the 2003 TV documentary in which Jackson said he allowed children to sleep in his bed but that it was not sexual.

    Bashir is now a correspondent for ABC News, which said Wednesday it will fight Bashir's subpoena.

    "We feel strongly that the California shield law protects the rights of journalists who cannot be -- or be perceived to be -- arms of either the prosecution or defense as they pursue the news," ABC News Vice President Jeffrey Schneider said in a statement.

    The judge set pretrial hearings for Jan. 21 and Jan. 27 to consider issues including whether a child-abuse expert can testify, the questionnaire to be given to jurors and other motions on admission of evidence.

    Posted by Nancy at 09:53 PM | Comments (0)

    Sharon Osbourne confesses to bulimia

    SHARON Osbourne has revealed she suffers from an eating disorder. The reality TV mum, who is married to rock legend Ozzy, says she has bulimia and often vomits up her food infront of her family.

    "I still have bulimia, Ozzy knows and the kids - my God, how could they not. It's the thing that causes most arguments," she told British tabloid the Daily Mail.

    The 52-year-old star admitted she needed professional help to overcome the disease she has battled all of her adult life.

    "We'll be at the dinner table and I'll go off and they'll say, 'Oh, here we go again.' They hate it."

    Posted by Nancy at 02:47 PM | Comments (0)

    Eating Disorders Treatment Facility Celebrates 15th Anniversary

    January 12, 2005 Phoenix [PRNewswire]

    In January of 1990, Ward Keller opened the doors of Remuda Ranch Programs for Anorexia and Bulimia in Wickenburg, Ariz. At that time, there was only one patient. Fifteen years later, Remuda Ranch has grown to become the nation's largest inpatient treatment center for women and girls, and has helped more than 6,000 patients and more than 15,000 family members overcome eating disorders.

    "We're extremely pleased to be celebrating this important milestone," said Ward Keller, president and founder of Remuda Ranch Programs for Anorexia and Bulimia. "It proves the foundation we laid out fifteen years ago remains strong and we stand behind our Biblically based program. Our reputation is strengthened every year as we continue to help women and girls with eating disorders."

    Eating disorders continue to increase at alarming rates in the U.S. Remuda Ranch has experienced an increase in children under 13 and midlife patients. Many times, Remuda Ranch is a last resort for women and girls suffering from anorexia, bulimia, emotional eating, and related issues. Often, patients try other treatment centers before finally arriving at Remuda Ranch.

    "Our staff is made up of compassionate and dedicated professionals who have a real passion for their career and helping patients with eating disorders," adds Keller. Remuda Ranch assigns six professionals to each patient including a psychiatrist, psychologist, primary care physician, nurse, dietitian and Master's level therapist. "Our superb recovery rates are evidence of the positive results of their efforts."

    In response to trends in our nation, last spring Remuda Ranch launched two new programs -- a children's program and an emotional eating program, including binge-eating disorder, compulsive over-eating and obesity. Success of the children's program has been tremendous. Remuda Ranch is now one of the few treatment centers in the nation that has the ability to respond to the growing need to help children 13 and younger in overcoming the ravages of eating disorders.

    "Our future is bright and we have plans to expand our treatment programs to help a greater range of patients," adds Keller.

    About Remuda Ranch Programs for Anorexia and Bulimia

    Remuda Ranch is a caring place for women and girls who are suffering from ever-increasing levels of anorexia, bulimia and other eating disorder related issues. Remuda Treatment Centers offer professional, Biblically based programs exclusively dedicated to the professional treatment of females suffering from eating disorders. Each resident is treated by a team of six professionals including a psychiatric and primary care provider, registered dietitian, Masters-trained therapist, psychologist and registered nurse. The professional staff equips each resident with the right tools to live a healthy, productive life. For more information, call 1-800-445-1900

    Posted by Nancy at 12:58 AM | Comments (0)

    January 12, 2005

    People with eating disorders are being let down

    January 11, 2005 Sheffield UK

    People with potentially fatal eating disorders are being let down by the NHS, a city expert claimed today.
    One city GP even told a young woman with an eating disorder to "go home and drink a pint of milk and have a treat."

    At least 11,000 people in the city are living with eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia nervosa but most are unable to get help, according to South Yorkshire Eating Disorders Association.
    Spokesperson Christine Taylor claims Government health guidelines stating sufferers should have immediate access to specialist health services are being ignored because there is little NHS help available in Sheffield.
    Few city GPs are trained to help, there is only a limited NHS community service, and hospital psychiatric wards are ill-equipped to tackle emotional issues at the root of the mental health disorder, she claims.
    "We get people who go to see their GP and are told 'it is not my area of expertise'. In another case a young woman was told 'go home and drink a pint of milk and have a treat'. The GP wasn't going to see her for four weeks," said Christine.
    "There is a lack of understanding that specialist help is needed to tackle eating disorders which are totally misunderstood."
    Anorexia is often described as a 'slimmer's disease' but is actually a mental illness. Sufferers rigidly control their eating to cope with the difficulties of life and not eating can be used as a way to block painful feelings. Bulimics eat huge quantities of food, then throw it up, as a way to deal with emotional distress.
    Young women aged from 14-25 are mostly likely to develop an eating disorder but men, children as young as eight, and older women can develop the problem, which can persist for life.
    The local association runs support groups, but Christine said a massive expansion in services is needed because so many people are suffering in silence.
    She said people who are dangerously underweight through anorexia are often reluctant to go into hospital because they are not able to get psychiatric treatment, and have concerns about being labelled mentally ill.
    Sheffield Care Trust runs an NHS service in the community to help those with severe eating disorders but it can only help 50 people at a time.
    She said: "We can provide support and self-help literature. But there needs to be many more services. These are complex conditions because of the denial, secrecy and embarrassment of the disease. Ninety per cent of people affected do not access the NHS."
    Sheffield Care Trust said: "We provide a service for people with anorexia nervosa and bulimia, prioritising those with the most severe difficulties. It is the only NHS service of its kind in the area.
    "Urgent cases are always seen quickly If a client needs psychiatric help, they will be assessed and treated by one of Sheffield Care Trust's services."

    Posted by Nancy at 03:14 PM | Comments (0)

    Reno-area man headed back to prison again for child abuse

    January 12, 2005 Reno, NV [AP]

    A Reno-area man who earlier served nine years in prison for child abuse was sentenced to up to ten years in prison Tuesday for abusing his eleven-day-old daughter last year.

    34-year-old Stacy Michael Dozier of Sun Valley was arrested in February and later admitted to police he injured the infant when he became frustrated that she would not stop crying.

    Washoe County Deputy District Attorney Kelli Anne Viloria says it was the same reason he had given law officers in the previous case for injuries caused to another infant. That child suffered permanent brain damage.

    Prosecutors say Dozier took the bruised and bleeding baby to a local hospital emergency room on February 26th.

    Later tests showed the girl had suffered a fractured arm.

    Dozier apologized for hurting the child during Tuesday's sentencing before Washoe County District Judge Connie Steinheimer.

    The judge says he "should have known better" given that he served nine years in prison for similar conduct. He will not be eligible for parole until he serves a minimum of four years.

    Posted by Nancy at 06:45 AM | Comments (0)

    January 11, 2005

    Sullivan sentenced for sex abuse

    January 11, 2005
    By Carrie Petersen
    Albany Democrat-Herald

    Timothy Sean Sullivan, former pastor of Liberty Christian Center, was sentenced Monday afternoon to eight years and nine months in prison for sexually abusing his 11-year-old daughter.

    In December, Sullivan was convicted by a jury in Linn County Circuit Court on two counts of sexual abuse.

    The victim is Sullivan's daughter from a previous relationship.

    Each conviction carries a minimum sentence of six years and three months in prison.

    Judge John McCormick required that Sullivan serve the full 75 months on the first count.

    On the second count, Sullivan will serve 30 months consecutive to the first 75, and 45 months will be served concurrently.

    McCormick said deciding whether or not to have Sullivan serve the prison time consecutively or concurrently was not a decision he took lightly.

    Giving the sentences consecutively would be unfair to the defendant, McCormick said, and giving the sentences concurrently would be unfair to the victim.

    Sullivan will also be required to register as a sex offender once he is released from prison.

    Prior to the sentencing, Deputy District Attorney De Ann Ferrari told the judge the situation required Sullivan serve the full 150 months.

    Ferrari told the judge that the victim in this case is "one of the most vulnerable victims imaginable," because of her age and the relationship between her and Sullivan.

    "He abused a position of trust not only as a father but as a spiritual leader and an adult," Ferrari told the judge.

    The victim's mother read from a handwritten note to the court saying, "nothing can take away the pain this man has caused."

    Sullivan's attorney, J. Mark Lawrence of McMinnville, told the judge there were "extraordinary lengths Sullivan went to to protect his daughter."

    Lawrence explained that Sullivan had spoken with many people about his concern that his daughter may have been molested.

    He set boundaries by asking his wife to be in the same room when he and his daughter were together, Lawrence said. Sullivan also told his daughter that nothing was her fault.

    Sullivan nodded his head in agreement while Lawrence conveyed a message for him.

    Lawrence told the judge that Sullivan wanted to make sure his daughter knew nothing about this was her fault. Her father was going to prison, but that is not her fault, Lawrence said.

    Sullivan stood before the judge and said there were lots of things going through his mind. "The thing I really want to say ... if she (my daughter) will accept this, ‘I love her.'"

    Sullivan added, "I am deeply sorry for anything I may have done to make her feel uncomfortable or afraid."

    The defense said it plans to file at least one motion following Monday's sentencing.

    A hearing for those motions has been set for 10:30 a.m. Feb. 23

    Posted by Nancy at 11:20 PM | Comments (0)

    Abused boy, 12, claims parents' jail sentence too light

    January 11, 2005 [The Salt Lake Tribune]
    By Stephen Hunt

    A maltreated 12-year-old boy had just one question Monday about his parents' jail sentence for chaining him in the basement of their Magna home: "Why do they only have to go for six months?"

    One reason for the relatively light punishment is that Mark J. and Christina L. Gray have five other children at home.

    Convicted by a jury of second-degree felony child abuse, the Grays each faced up to 15 years in prison. But 3rd District Judge Robin Reese allowed the couple to stagger their six-month jail terms so one of them can be free to care for the kids. Christina Gray opted to serve her sentence first.

    Reese called the Grays "compassionate people, who cared about [the boy]," but who became frustrated with his uncontrollable behavior and constant running away from home.

    Reese noted, however, there was an element of punishment in the Grays' behavior.

    During the day, the boy was handcuffed and chained to a concrete block, according to charges filed in March 2004. At night, the boy slept on a small rug on a cement floor while chained to a wall, without a blanket or pillow.

    Defense attorney Barton Warren claimed the Grays restrained the boy for his own protection. He said the Grays had sought help from numerous public agencies, to no avail.

    "They are a caring, loving couple who were faced with an impossible situation," Warren said, pleading for a sentence that did not include jail time.

    Warren reiterated the Grays' claim that they received permission from a Salt Lake County sheriff's deputy to chain the boy, after he had been brought home by police more than 20 times. The officer, however, has denied ever using the word "chain."

    Prosecutor Paul Parker had asked for up to a year in jail. He said the Grays had exhibited "just flat meanness. . . . They were abusive and nasty to this young man."

    At trial, the boy testified that his father and stepmother often deprived him of food. When he was allowed upstairs to eat, he was handcuffed to his chair, he said.

    The boy admitted running away from home, but testified he did so to escape physical abuse by his stepmother.

    He said she hit and kicked him, stabbed him in the head with a fork, poured jalapeno juice in his eyes and struck him with a piece of two-by-four lumber. At night, she would sometimes pour water on him then turn on a fan, he said.

    On Monday, the Grays apologized to the boy, who now lives with an aunt, and said they loved him.

    Christina Gray, 36, called herself a "person lacking in wisdom" who made "a poor choice."

    Mark Gray, 40, promised he would never repeat his actions, but insisted he chained the boy to protect him.

    "He was out for days with no food or shelter or protection from the environment," the father said.
    Defense attorney Warren said the boy - who came to live with the Grays because he had been abused by his biological mother - was once gone four days..

    Parker said the boy is now attending school and has stopped running away.

    "He has a very nice life," Parker said. "That condemns these people [the Grays] as much as anything."

    Posted by Nancy at 06:50 AM | Comments (0)

    Couple Sentenced for Chaining Child in Basement

    January 10, 2005

    SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A Magna couple will spend six months in jail for chaining their 12-year-old foster child in the basement.

    Mark and Christina Gray were convicted in September of second degree felony child abuse and neglect.

    The couple were sentenced today to serve staggered sentences of six months each. That way one of them will be able to care for their remaining five children.

    The boy, who came to live with the Grays after he was abused by his biological mother, testified he was deprived of food and chained to a concrete block.

    He now lives with an aunt.

    The state Division of Child and Family Services didn't remove the couples' other children saying the abuse was directed only at the boy.

    They were also ordered to complete parenting and anger management classes.

    Posted by Nancy at 03:32 AM | Comments (0)

    Pastor faces sentencing for child sex abuse

    January 10, 2005 Albany, Oregon [Associated Press]

    An Albany pastor is scheduled to be sentenced today after being found guilty of the sexual abuse of his young daughter.

    A jury found 36-year-old Timothy Sean Sullivan guilty of two counts of first-degree sexual abuse last month. He was pastor of the Liberty Christian Center.

    The victim, now 12, is Sullivan's daughter from an earlier relationship.

    Sullivan's wife, in-laws, and supporters from his church were with him throughout his six-day trial.

    Upon the reading of the verdict, Sullivan slumped in his chair, and wept. So did his family.

    Sullivan has maintained his innocence and took the stand in his own defense. His daughter was also called to testify.

    She identified her father as the person who molested her. Sullivan's sentencing is set for 3 p.m

    Posted by Nancy at 03:19 AM | Comments (0)

    January 10, 2005

    How to Protect Children in the Tsunami Zone

    January 9, 2005

    Measures to protect children in the tsunami zone from exploitation, abuse, and criminal trafficking are needed immediately to prevent them from slipping between the cracks, UNICEF said today, outlining the key steps essential to protecting orphans and other vulnerable children.

    "The good news is that most of the needed efforts are already underway," said UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy. "But we have to move fast," she added. "Those who would prey upon children in this chaotic environment are already at work."

    UNICEF said the most vulnerable of the tsunami generation are those who have lost their parents or have been separated from their families. While no reliable figures yet exist, estimates based on the numbers of dead and displaced suggest there may be thousands of children across the region who fall into these categories. Surveys now underway will help identify the scope of the issue in the next week or so.

    UNICEF said there are five key steps essential to keeping vulnerable children safe from exploitation in the immediate term.

    -- Register all displaced children: UNICEF said that knowing which children are alone or possibly orphaned, and knowing exactly where they are, is the first critical step to protecting them. In India, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia -- the hardest-hit of all the tsunami countries -- registration is underway. In Aceh, ground zero of the human catastrophe, five child-friendly registration centers in the camps are now open, and 15 more are planned for next week.

    -- Provide immediate safe care: Children identified as unaccompanied or lost must be placed in the temporary care of adults accountable for their welfare. In displacement camps, separate child-friendly care centers for unaccompanied children may be established. Alternately, children may be placed in community-based children's homes until their families can be located. Such options have already been identified in each of the countries affected, though more may be needed.

    -- Locate relatives: Registering children by name, address, community and birth date allows local and national authorities - working with NGOs - to trace and reunite family members pulled apart in the disaster but who survived. It also enables authorities to find members of extended family - aunts and uncles, grandparents, or older siblings.

    -- Alert police and other authorities: UNICEF said it is essential to alert police, border patrols, teachers, health workers and others to the threat of child exploitation, and to enlist their support in protecting children. This process of public and institutional awareness is beginning to take place in the affected countries. In Sri Lanka, government and key partners, including UNICEF, have raised the issue in the media so that all Sri Lankans are aware of the need to look out for unaccompanied children. In Indonesia, police and port authorities have been put on special alert.

    -- Special national measures: Concerned about the prospect of child trafficking from the tsunami zone, Indonesia put a temporary moratorium on children under 16 from Aceh traveling outside the country without a parent. The government also put a temporary moratorium on the adoption of children from Aceh until all children can be properly identified and a process of family tracing completed.

    The international standard in a crisis is to keep children as close to their family members and community as possible, UNICEF noted. Staying with relatives in extended family units is generally a better solution than uprooting the child completely.

    "Family and community provide vigilance and protection for children," Bellamy said. "With so many families torn apart, and so many communities completely destroyed, we have to pull together other kinds of protections for these youngsters. All people will have a role to play in looking out for the best interests of this tsunami generation."

    UNICEF emphasized that child trafficking, sexual exploitation, and extreme child labor are nothing new. But it warned that the breakdown of institutions in wake of the December 26 tsunamis left an opening for unscrupulous and criminal exploitation of the most vulnerable.

    She noted that the illicit trafficking of human beings is big business, not unlike trafficking in drugs or arms, with real money at stake and powerful interests involved.

    "We have to want to protect children as much as others want to exploit them," Bellamy said. "Based on the quick response of governments to this threat, it's clear they want to provide that protection. But we have to do it together."

    To Help Support UNICEF's Emergency Relief Efforts in South Asia, Please Visit http://www.unicefusa .org or Call 800-4UNICEF

    About UNICEF:
    Founded in 1946, UNICEF helps save, protect and improve the lives of children around the world through immunization, education, health care, nutrition, clean water, and sanitation. UNICEF is non-partisan and its cooperation is free of discrimination. In everything it does, the most disadvantaged children and the countries in greatest need have priority.

    Posted by Nancy at 01:35 AM | Comments (0)

    Child abuse prevention ideas aired

    Teamwork: Task force says better coordination needed between state programs
    January 7, 2005 {The Salt Lake Tribune]
    By Kirsten Stewart

    Utah's $350,000 Children's Trust Fund should become a statewide coordinator of child abuse prevention programs, which are now underfunded and working in isolation, a task force says.

    The Utah Child Abuse Prevention Task Force supports legislation to infuse new life into the trust fund, which uses its state budget to distribute grants to public and private abuse prevention programs.

    Sponsored by Clearfield Republican Rep. Paul Ray, a bill would create a board of directors to reorganize the trust, possibly as a nonprofit, so it can seek donations from private foundations and corporations.

    If the bill passes, the goal is to double or triple the fund's reserves by year's end while placing 10 percent of all donations in an interest-accruing account.
    The task force, created by former Gov. Olene Walker, created its still-developing plan after six months of research and advice from national experts. Its recommendations were unveiled Thursday.

    "Child abuse is a major problem here," said Ed Clark, medical director at Primary Children's Medical Center, citing state statistics showing that child abuse cases in Utah rose 34 percent between 2000 to 2003.

    "We pay for the harms of abuse with our tax dollars, health insurance premiums, lost productivity and reduced resources for other important services like education," said Clark, stressing that child abuse is preventable.

    Task force members say there are promising prevention programs - parenting classes and crisis counseling - scattered throughout the state. The Children's Trust would work to improve coordination between these programs and state-run social services.

    Sen. Chris Buttars also is sponsoring legislation to help abused children. The West Jordan Republican's bill proposes a $200,000 funding increase for Utah's 15 Children's Justice Centers, safe havens where abused children can file complaints with police and be linked with social services, physicians and mental health professionals.

    The task force's call to community action - helping parents succeed at raising safe, healthy children - represents a reframing of the parental rights debate that consumed the Legislature last year. Task force members hope state officials are listening.

    Lawmakers at the unveiling pledged their support, including Senate President John Valentine who said, "This report won't be one that goes in the garbage."

    But details were scarce as to the state's commitment, partly because Utah's Human Services Department is in flux. Its eight-year director, Robin Arnold-Williams, has resigned, and Utah's new Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. might merge the agency with the Health Department.

    Posted by Nancy at 01:14 AM | Comments (0)

    January 08, 2005

    Agencies are faulted in death of 2-year-old

    January 8, 2005 [Winston-Salem Journal]
    by Patrick Wilson

    A series of failures on the part of Forsyth County Child Protective Services, law-enforcement agencies and medical employees hindered investigations of physical and sexual abuse of a 2-year-old girl who was killed by her mother's boyfriend in 2003, a state report released yesterday said.

    Bethany Brannock died of head trauma on June 18, 2003. Andre Clifton, 25, who was the boyfriend of Bethany's mother, Leatrice "Leanne" Brannock, pleaded guilty last month in Forsyth Superior Court to second-degree murder and felonious child abuse, and was sentenced to a minimum of 13 years in prison.

    Among the many problems cited by the report: A man who reported suspected abuse of Bethany to the Forsyth County Department of Social Services was transferred to voice mail, and no one returned his call.

    "Everything just seemed to be falling through the cracks for that poor little girl," said Imran Butt, one of several people who reported abuse. "There were dozens of people who saw that child. The system knew about it.... We as a society failed that child."

    The review was required by law because the family had been involved with social services before Bethany died. The Brannock family was reported for abuse or neglect six times between 1999 and 2003, the report said.

    Dr. Tim Monroe, the Forsyth County health director, said that no system is fail-safe and that there was no single event or decision that could have prevented the homicide.

    But he said that the review found problems that should be corrected. The report makes 17 recommendations for various agencies to better protect children in the future.

    Some of those suggestions may be presented by state officials to the General Assembly for consideration, said Carlotta Dixon, the child-fatality reviewer from the state who investigated Bethany's case.

    Among the findings of the report, which was prepared by the N.C. Division of Social Services, the Forsyth County Community Child Protection Team and the Forsyth Child Fatality Team:

    * Emergency-medical personnel at a hospital saw Bethany on Aug. 3, 2002, for possible sexual abuse. But they did not make a report to Child Protective Services or to police because there was no physical evidence.

    * Child Protective Services, or CPS, the arm of the social-services department that takes reports of child abuse and neglect, used information from a private agency whose goals are family preservation to allow Bethany to stay with her parent.

    * CPS did not send its finding substantiating that there had been neglect of Bethany in July 2001 to the district attorney's office.

    * CPS could not investigate allegations of sexual abuse involving the girl because the suspect was a minor. Reports about the sexual-abuse allegations were forwarded to the Winston-Salem Police Department and Forsyth County Sheriff's Office in August 2002. CPS did not follow up with the agencies to determine their findings. The report says that the sheriff's office did not investigate; no mention is made of the Winston-Salem department's findings.

    * Kernersville police did not promptly deal with a May 2003 report that a child was abused in a convenience store, and police did not notify CPS until six days later.

    Kernersville Police Chief Neal Stockton said that the officer who investigated the case handled it appropriately. The officer talked with Leatrice Brannock and did not see any indication that there was an emergency. He filed his report, supervisors reviewed it and sent it to DSS, Stockton said.

    "If we felt like that child had been in harm's way, we would have made charges and had DSS come out to take custody of that child," Stockton said.

    Forsyth County Sheriff Bill Schatzman said he was not familiar with the information that the report said the sheriff's office did not investigate. But he said that the two detectives who handle child-abuse cases have a heavy workload.

    "We have two detectives assigned, which is too little in my view," he said. "There's no excuse for not being sensitive and robust and aggressive when it comes to child cases."

    Among the report's recommendations:

    * Child Protective Services should be familiar with other agencies to which it refers clients. Agencies providing services to families where abuse and neglect have been found should be in regular contact with CPS about their services and goals.

    * Medical personnel should notify CPS and law enforcement in cases of suspected sexual abuse, even if there is no physical evidence.

    * Police agencies should do their own investigations of sexual-abuse allegations regardless of any decisions by CPS.

    * The Department of Social Services should refer reports of suspected sexual abuse to the district attorney.

    * CPS should be allowed to investigate juveniles suspected of sexually abusing other children if the suspects were taking care of the children.

    * The state should create a hot line for people to call to report child abuse, and Forsyth County should prominently publish in the phone book and other places a number for CPS.

    George Bryan is the executive director of Exchange/SCAN, a group that fights child abuse, and was on the 19-person team that reviewed the Brannock case. The problems, he said, were more pervasive than in any other review of a child's death that he's been involved with.

    "There were many reports, many investigations of this family. It was a continuing issue," Bryan said. "And yes, we folks that are working in child abuse didn't communicate the way we should have, is what the results say."

    Leatrice Brannock could not be reached yesterday for comment.

    Sheila Partin, Bethany's paternal grandmother, who made several reports of abuse, said she hopes that the recommendations can help save other children. "We can't bring Bethany back no matter what," she said.

    Imran Butt employed Leatrice Brannock at his Quality Mart gas station at the corner of Bodenhamer and West Mountain streets in Kernersville. He made his call to DSS about two weeks before Bethany died, leaving his cell-phone number. He reported seeing bruises on the girl. He was starting two new businesses, driving a lot and working long days; he didn't get a call back.

    "I didn't have the time to call someone up and do it again," Butt said. "I should have done more. The system is only as good as we make it."

    • Patrick Wilson can be reached at 727-7286 wsjournal.com

    Posted by Nancy at 01:01 AM | Comments (0)

    Tsunami orphans at sexual abuse risk

    January 2, 2005 [UPI]

    Colombo, Sri Lanka, Jan. 2 (UPI) -- Save the Children Fund in Sri Lanka said children orphaned by the tsunami are at risk of sexual abuse in camps or being sold to child traffickers.

    The international children's aid organization said it has evidence that children in a camp have been bought for about $40, the Scotsman.com reported Sunday.

    "We believe two children were sold to traffickers from Colombo. We don't know why they have taken the children but we fear they will be passed on to pedophiles or sold for some other form of exploitation," said Tahirih Ayn, a child protection officer with Save the Children Fund Sri Lanka.

    The number of children orphaned or separated from their parents after the tsunami, which killed nearly 30,000 people in Sri Lanka, is unknown, but in one camp of displaced persons, about 40 percent were children.

    A Save the Children Fund official said the group feared that children might be sexually exploited by adults in the camps and it recommended children be separated from adults. The group also said some parents who lost children in the disaster have taken orphaned children illegally.

    Posted by Nancy at 12:17 AM | Comments (0)

    January 07, 2005

    Two Ohio women lose appeal in child abuse case

    January 6, 2005 [The Advocate]

    AKRON (AP)- A woman and her partner lost their appeal to retract their guilty pleas to abusing their six children.

    Mary Rowles, 32, and Alice Jenkins, 29, both of Kenmore, were each sentenced to 30 years in prison.

    The women pleaded guilty in October 2003 to kidnapping, child endangering, felonious assault and other charges.

    The 9th Ohio District Court of Appeals on Wednesday also denied a request by Jenkins and Rowles to lessen their prison sentences. Attorneys for both women say they will appeal their case to the Ohio Supreme Court.

    The women were arrested after three of Rowles' boys, ages 8, 10 and 14, were found malnourished wandering city streets in April 2003. Police said the boys described being forced to live in a closet that reeked of urine, with the only light coming in at the bottom of the door.

    Rowles is the biological mother to each of the five boys and a girl. Prosecutors alleged Jenkins was responsible for the abuse and that Rowles didn't protect the children.

    Before they were sentenced by Summit County Common Pleas Judge Patricia Cosgrove, the women tried to take back their plea and take their case to trial.

    The women's attorneys said they wanted to call an expert who then refused to testify. Cosgrove gave the women a one-week delay to find another expert and refused to allow the pleas to be withdrawn when an expert couldn't be found.

    Attorneys argued in their appeals that the women should be allowed to withdraw their pleas. They also argued that Cosgrove's sentences exceeded the statutory maximum.

    The appellate court dismissed both claims in a 3-0 decision. The court ruled Cosgrove's sentence was within Ohio's sentencing laws.

    Posted by Nancy at 06:39 AM | Comments (0)

    Texas Seeks $329M to Reform Child Agency

    January 7, 2005 [Associated Press]

    AUSTIN - Texas' troubled Child Protective Services needs $329 million for reforms such as hiring nearly 2,000 more caseworkers and support staff and improving foster care, state officials said.

    The Health and Human Services (news - web sites) Commission, which oversees CPS, laid out more than 160 recommendations to overhaul the agency, which has come under scrutiny after a number of high-profile child abuse deaths.

    The most recent was in November, when 35-year-old Dena Schlosser was charged with murder after telling a 911 operator that she had cut off the arms of her baby girl. Schlosser had been investigated by CPS in the past.

    Gov. Rick Perry on Thursday called on the Legislature to come up with $250 million, the estimated amount needed from the state, to implement the HHSC plan. The rest of the money would come from federal sources.

    F. Scott McCown, head of the Center for Public Policy Priorities, said the plan was a great starting point, but said it calls for too little money and caseloads that are too large.

    Posted by Nancy at 06:26 AM | Comments (0)

    Jury convicts in child abuse

    January 7, 2005 [St Cloud Times - Minnesota]
    By David Unze

    A Stearns County jury Thursday evening convicted a St. Cloud man of two counts of sexual abuse against a child. Joseph C. Merritt faces a possible 12-year prison term when he is sentenced.

    He also faces several other charges of sexually abusing other children. Trials on those counts are expected later this year. Merritt, 42, has been in Stearns County Jail in lieu of $75,000 bond.

    The children he is accused of abusing ranged in age from 7 to 14 at the time of the abuse.

    Prosecutors tried to tell jurors about aggravating factors that could have been used to support a sentence longer than the presumptive 12-year term. Stearns County District Court Judge Skipper Pearson denied that request.

    A U.S. Supreme Court decision last summer requires that juries, rather than judges, decide whether the facts of a case are severe enough to warrant a sentence longer than called for in guidelines.

    Some of the incidents alleged against Merritt occurred in Hoffman in Grant County, according to criminal complaints. Stearns County sheriff's officials received a complaint about Merritt in January 2004. He was charged that month with one count. The additional counts were filed later after investigators learned of more victims.

    Posted by Nancy at 06:17 AM | Comments (0)

    Cases of child abuse emerge from camps

    January 6, 2005 [Belfast Telegraph News]
    By Stephen Khan in Galle, Sri Lanka

    Having climbed to higher ground as the wave pounded in, Madusha Lakmali thought everything would be all right. Little did she know that evading the tsunami was just the start of her terrifying, week-long ordeal. Next came homelessness, rejection and then sexual abuse.

    Across the Asian tsunami disaster zone, many displaced children and orphans who have survived the turmoil now face the chilling prospect of abduction and exploitation.

    There are already credible reports of rape and of children going missing after the tsunami struck. From Sumatra to Madras, the fear is that Asia's vulnerable are now more exposed to predatory sex offenders and people-smugglers than ever before.

    The account of 15-year-old Madusha illustrates how chaos that follows disaster can be every bit as petrifying and heartbreaking as living through the onslaught of a tsunami.

    In the gardens of the Ruhlwa Lamaniwasao home for abused children, half an hour's drive inland from the shattered town of Galle, Madusha played on the swings with two other recent arrivals. All three had terrible stories to tell.

    Ever since her mother moved abroad and her father remarried, said Madusha, she had been forced to cook, clean and care for her younger step-sisters. When the wave came she was at the stove. She fled the house, running to higher ground and what seemed like safety.

    At first she thought her family was dead. Later in the day she was first delighted to discover them alive, then shocked to be told, she says, that they did not want her back in the damaged house.

    So, homeless, she made for her grandfather's home. Within hours, however, predatory advances were made on her. As she described this part of her ordeal Madusha broke down, prompting Dr Sujeewa Amarasena to comfort her.

    Dr Amarasena has been looking after children displaced by last week's tsunami and trying to find them new homes. "This girl has had a petrifying experience and needs love and care now," Dr Amarasena said. "She wants to go back to school and it is important we find a good family in this area to look after her."

    Iranganie Amarasiri, probation commissioner for the southern province that includes Galle, nodded in agreement as other children looked on. She explained that 16 children were without homes in the area as a result of the tsunami. She also expressed concern that those orphaned or left with just one parent could be abducted or subjected to sexual abuse.

    While most Sri Lankan orphans have been taken in by family members or friends living in unaffected parts of the country, that does not guarantee their safety.

    Along with Madusha in the Rhulwa home were two sisters, Ayesha and Nelum Keditawakku. They had been travelling with their grandfather when the tsunami toppled their carriage. Their parents moved abroad and abandoned them and 12-year-old Ayesha had subsequently been sexually abused.

    Their grandfather also survived the wave, but fled north without the girls, leaving them to seek refuge in a temple. They were subsequently brought to safety here. "Again these are girls who survived a terrifying time and are now without a family to look after them. The future is uncertain and they are scared because of what happened before," Mrs Amarasiri said.

    Save the Children is operating in the Galle area and throughout the disaster region to ensure as many children as possible escape the risk of abduction or abuse. Beth Jepson, of Save the Children, said: "Millions of children have been affected by the catastrophe and many of them have been separated from their families and have been left homeless. In a situation like this, children are the most vulnerable, particularly those without their parents or close family members."

    In Aceh, meanwhile, where 35,000 children have been orphaned or separated from their parents, Indonesian officials warned that child traffickers were smuggling children out the province for illegal adoption.

    It is claimed that at least 20 orphans were sent to Malaysia and Bandung in West Java by traffickers posing as adoption foundations. Another foundation, it is claimed, has offered Acehnese orphans to potential foster parents via text messages. On Monday, the Indonesian Government issued a regulation banning the movement of Acehnese children under 16 from Indonesia .

    Sri Lankan authorities, meanwhile are also trying to deal with what has been described as impromptu adoption of orphans. A spokeswoman for Save the Children in Sri Lanka said: "Families doing this are trying to deal with their own grief. We are advising people that they should follow the proper procedure of adoption ... otherwise there will be long-term problems."

    Unicef has been swamped with inquires from the West about adopting tsunami children, but it remains a priority to keep them in the area they lived before disaster struck.

    In the case of Madusha Lakmali that means southern Sri Lanka. "I want to finish school," she told The Independent. "If I can learn English and finish school, I will be happy and maybe forget about the last week."

    Posted by Nancy at 01:12 AM | Comments (0)

    Convicted offender pleads guilty to child sexual abuse charge

    Thursday, January 6, 2005 Utah [The Spectrum]

    CEDAR CITY -- Previously convicted sex offender Leo Shepard, 46, pleaded guilty to first-degree felony attempted sexual abuse of a child in 5th District Court Wednesday.

    Shepard will go to prison regardless of what a pre-sentence report indicates because there is a minimum sentence requirement with the charge to which he pleaded guilty. The minimum sentence will be three years to life in prison.

    Shepard was arrested Dec. 9 when it was made known to Adult Probation and Parole that he failed to register as a sex offender. Following the arrest, a victim with whom Shepard had a special relationship of trust who was under the age of 18, came forward and reported the abuse to law enforcement. After an interview with Shepard, the sexual abuse charge was filed.

    As a result of the agreement between Shepard and the state, the charge of failing to register as a sex offender was dropped, and no victim will have to testify in court.

    "This was an ideal situation," Iron County Attorney Scott Garrett said. "In an effort to protect the victim and maximize the time he will spend in prison, he pleaded guilty to attempted (sexual abuse of a child)."

    Garrett said if Shepard had pleaded guilty to the original charge of sexual abuse of a child, also a first-degree felony, the minimum sentence would be five years to life in prison.

    "We feel good about the plea and we know he will go to prison," he said.

    A factual statement read by Chief Deputy Iron County Attorney Troy Little indicated that in July 2004, Shepard touched the victim's private parts. The victim was not of age that she could give consent, nor did she.

    Posted by Nancy at 12:25 AM | Comments (0)

    January 06, 2005

    Prevent Child Abuse to hold festival at mall

    January 6, 2005 [Indianapolis Star]

    Prevent Child Abuse Indiana will hold an afternoon of free entertainment geared toward children and families from noon to 4 p.m. Jan. 15 at Glendale Mall.

    Kidding Around: Our Community Celebrating Families will feature booths and exhibits ...

    prize drawings and live entertainment.

    Participants will include Rupert's Kids, the Humane Society of Indianapolis, Kindermusik, Head Start, the Indiana Safe Kids Coalition, the Indianapolis Police Department's McGruff mascot and Easter Seals.

    The event is sponsored by the Marion County Committee To Prevent Child Abuse, a volunteer committee of Prevent Child Abuse Indiana.

    Posted by Nancy at 12:53 AM | Comments (0)

    January 05, 2005

    Jury: Fla. Agency Guilty in Child's Death

    January 5, 2005 [Associated Press]

    STARKE, Fla. - A jury ruled Wednesday that the state's child welfare agency was at fault in the beating death of a 3-year-old girl who was allowed to remain in an abusive home.

    The panel awarded the child's father $250,000. The case is latest in a series of embarrassments for the Department of Children & Families, which has been

    under scrutiny since the disappearance of a foster child who was in the state-approved care of a woman with a lengthy criminal record.

    "We are reviewing the jury's decision and are exploring our legal options," Department of Children & Families spokesman Tim Bottcher said.

    Ciara Floyd was beaten to death by her mother's boyfriend in 1996, a month after her father sought hospital treatment for the girl for bruises on her chest and back. A child abuse investigator determined there was not enough evidence to remove the child from her mother's home.

    The boyfriend was sentenced to 30 years for his guilty plea to murder in the case.

    The lawyer for DCF argued the investigator had no recourse under the law but to leave Ciara with her mother since there were no doctors' reports of abuse.

    "Without that, there were no reasonable grounds to justify the removal of Ciara," Deputy Attorney General Denis Dean said. "Whether she'd like to do something, whether she has a feeling, she has to follow the law."

    But the father's lawyer argued that there was plenty of evidence to remove the child, including the girl's bruises, an admitted domestic battery by the boyfriend and a verified abuse report involving another child.

    Posted by Nancy at 07:48 PM | Comments (0)

    Dad gets 3 Life Sentences

    The case uncovered inadequacy of the state's abuse hot line system
    January 5, 2005 By RUTH RENDON [Houston Chronicle]

    GALVESTON - A League City man was given three life sentences Tuesday after admitting he molested his 2-year-old daughter and beat her to death in a case that brought to light an ineffective state child abuse hot line system.

    Frank Padilla, 46, was scheduled for trial next month. His guilty pleas avoided a lengthy trial in which he faced the death penalty. He likely will have to serve 70 years in prison before being released.

    An unconscious Linda Gloria Padilla was taken to a Nassau Bay hospital by her father on Aug. 8, 2003. Padilla told hospital officials the girl had fallen off a sink but later confessed to police that he had beaten her because she wet her pants.

    The little girl, who never regained consciousness, was transferred to a Houston hospital where she died Aug. 13, 2003, after being taken off life support.

    An autopsy showed that the toddler suffered a broken pelvis, broken ribs, a fractured skull and bruises all over her body.

    "I think justice has been served today for Linda Padilla," said League City police Detective Marty Grant, who investigated the case. "This animal is off the streets and will not be able to hurt anyone else."

    Prior to appearing before state District Judge John Ellisor, Padilla spent about an hour in a conference room with his attorneys and a translator going over paperwork.

    He showed no emotion when questioned during an hourlong hearing. Wearing jail scrubs, Padilla answered questions from prosecutors and defense attorneys as he stood before the judge.

    Galveston County District Attorney Kurt Sistrunk said defense attorneys approached his office about a possible plea bargain and his office agreed.

    "There was nobody else here for her other than us and the League City Police Department," Sistrunk said of Linda Padilla. "Her father was convicted of capital murder and her mother is facing trial."

    Padilla, a Mexican national, must serve 40 years on the life sentence for capital murder before being eligible for parole. At the same time, he will be serving one of the aggravated sexual assault sentences and is eligible for parole after 30 years.

    Defense attorney Stephen Taylor said it is unlikely Padilla would receive parole on the aggravated assault case when he still would have 10 years to complete on the capital murder case before being considered for parole. Once he completes one aggravated case, then he will serve the second case, Taylor said.

    Taylor said the plea bargain keeps jurors from hearing and seeing graphic information about the case. Don Cantrell, another defense attorney, also said the plea agreement was an effort to save Padilla's life.

    Taylor said the evidence against Padilla in the sexual assault cases was "very strong."

    Frank Padilla's wife, Magdelena, 33, is charged with felony injury to a child by omission and is free on bond. No trial date has been set although Sistrunk said he expects the matter to be addressed by year's end.

    The death of Linda Padilla raised questions about the state child abuse hot line system. A pizza deliveryman called the hot line two months before the little girl died to report that the child had a black eye. Frank Padilla, according to the pizza deliveryman, was shielding the girl from the door when he delivered the pizza.

    The caseworker who took the call and dismissed the claim was subsequently fired. An investigation into the hot line by the Houston Chronicle resulted in additional workers being hired, installation of an upgraded computer system and other efforts to speed the answering of calls to the hot line.

    The Chronicle found that people calling the hot line were being put on hold for extended periods of time because not enough people were answering the phones.

    Posted by Nancy at 08:56 AM | Comments (0)

    Judge Bars Disclosure Of Sex Abuse Victims' Names

    Accusers Cannot Be Named During Trial, Order Says
    January 5, 2005 [Associated Press]

    BOSTON -- Acting at the request of prosecutors, a judge issued an order Tuesday barring the news media from disseminating the names of the alleged victims in the upcoming child rape trial of defrocked priest Paul Shanley.

    Superior Court Judge Charles Spurlock's order bars the publication of the names of Shanley's accusers, one of whom is expected to testify at his trial on child rape charges later this month and has spoken publicly in the past about his allegations.

    The name of that man has been published repeatedly by The Associated Press and other news organizations since 2002, when he filed a civil lawsuit against Shanley and gave numerous newspaper and television interviews.

    Spurlock cited a state law dating back to the 1980s that says that court or police records containing the name of victims in criminal cases involving rape or assault with intent to rape "shall be withheld from public inspection, except with the consent of a justice" of the court where the case is being prosecuted.

    The law says it is unlawful to "publish, disseminate or otherwise disclose the name of any individual identified as an alleged victim" of rape or attempted rape.

    It was not immediately known how often - if ever - the law has been invoked to bar the media from naming alleged victims in rape cases.

    The AP plans to appeal the judge's order.

    The news agency has a policy of not identifying rape victims if they wish to remain anonymous. Two alleged victims who have been involved in the criminal case against Shanley have been publicly identified since 2002; one gave his first interviews about his allegations soon after Shanley was arrested in California.

    The man's name was used in initial versions of a story that moved on the AP wire Tuesday, but was later removed after the judge's order was issued.

    Ken Chandler, editorial director of the Boston Herald, said the newspaper also planned to comply with the judge's order and also would appeal it. The Boston Globe did not use the name of the man in its early Wednesday edition.

    The Middlesex District Attorney's office, which sought the court order, declined to comment.

    "I think the court order and the statute speak for themselves," spokeswoman Emily LaGrassa said.

    Posted by Nancy at 06:57 AM | Comments (0)

    January 04, 2005

    Calif. Clergy Abuse Settlement Unsealed

    Mon Jan 3, 8:50 PM ET [Associated Press]

    LOS ANGELES - A judge Monday unsealed the details of a record $100 million settlement with a Southern California diocese over sex abuse allegations against clergy. Alleged victims sobbed as they spoke publicly about a deal that was nearly two years in the making.

    The settlement with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange marks the single largest clergy abuse settlement to date. The Archdiocese of Boston agreed to pay $85 million to 552 plaintiffs in 2002.

    "Let this be what everyone remembers from today: that nothing is more important than the protection of our children and our youth," Bishop Tod D. Brown said a news conference following a brief court hearing, sitting alongside the plaintiffs and their lawyers. "I seek their forgiveness, I hope for reconciliation and I know that they have now begun their healing process."

    Some of the plaintiffs cried while others hugged Brown.

    "Today I sit with you next to my brother in Christ, who has practiced his faith — not just with the money, but I see the compassion of Christ in this man," said plaintiff Mark Curran as he choked back tears. "Today, we can stand and we can say, 'I forgive you.' And of course I do. Of course we forgive you."

    The settlement came Dec. 2 after nearly two years of negotiations; it was placed under a court seal while the parties signed off.

    Payouts were based on the length and severity of abuse and other factors, but how much each plaintiff is getting remains confidential.

    Half of the payout will come from the diocese and the other half will be paid by its eight insurance carriers. The agreement also calls for the release of nearly all confidential documents from diocesan personnel files of the accused after a judge's review; attorneys estimated the first records could be released within two months.

    The settlement resolves 90 lawsuits against the diocese that included allegations against 31 priests, 10 lay personnel, one religious brother and two nuns. The earliest allegation dated to 1936; the latest came in 1996.

    Some 800 clergy abuse lawsuits are still pending statewide and plaintiffs used the settlement announcement to call on other bishops — particularly Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony — to follow Brown's example.

    The Archdiocese of Los Angeles faces more than 500 lawsuits that are still locked in settlement negotiations. Trial dates for a handful of those cases are expected to be set Friday.

    Posted by Nancy at 06:25 PM | Comments (0)