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February 26, 2005

New CPS statistics released

February 26, 2005 [Associated Press]

HOUSTON, February 26, 2005 — Of the 204 children who died from abuse or neglect in fiscal year 2004, 45 were previously reported as possible abuse or neglect victims to the state Child Protective Services agency, according to data released this week.

The figures come as lawmakers are working to reform CPS during the legislative session.

Gov. Rick Perry has endorsed a $329 million CPS reform plan. Among the reforms is developing a more precise way to investigate for signs of future abuse that would reduce the number of cases occurring after investigations are closed.

“At this point we’re trying to look forward to see what we can do to improve this,” Darrell Azar, CPS’ spokesman in Austin, said Thursday. “We’re trying to do anything we can to prevent the death of a child.”

Since 2002, about a quarter of the 591 children who died of abuse in Texas had a previous referral for abuse or neglect to CPS. In the 2004 fiscal year that ended Aug. 31, the 45 children represented 22 percent of all children who died of abuse and neglect.

The year before that, 28 percent of all children who died had a prior abuse or neglect allegation investigated by CPS. In 2002, that figure was 26 percent.

From Sept. 1, 2003, to Sept. 1, 2004, four Cameron County children died from child abuse. They include a 21-month-old child that died Sept. 14, 2003; a 4-year-old child that died Oct. 9, 2003; a 5-month-old child that died Aug. 9, 2004; and an 18-month-old child that died Aug. 28, 2004

The child that died in October had been previously been suspected of being abused and was a CPS case.

Bexar County led the state in 2004 in the number of children previously reported to CPS who later died with seven. Harris County had six deaths and Dallas County had four.

Agency officials said the deaths occurred before or as Perry, a Republican, launched an investigation into the agency and imposed a series of emergency measures as a string of startling child deaths occurred last year.

“We’re really looking at the pre-reform effort data,” Azar said.

Perry in January ordered that an investigations division be created within CPS and the agency is looking for a person with a law enforcement background to fill the leadership post in that office.

The reform plan proposed by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission and backed by Perry also calls for 848 more caseworkers by 2007. It also suggests that investigative techniques used by law enforcement would greatly improve the state abuse investigation system.

“It’s an approach that you take, a little more emphasis on critical thinking skills and a more thorough job of ferreting out information,” said Geoffrey Wool, a spokesman for the Department of Family and Protective Services, CPS’ parent agency.

Brownsville Herald reporter Laura Martinez contributed to this report.

Posted by Nancy at 04:03 PM | Comments (0)

Former advertising salesman pleads guilty to sex abuse

February 25, 2005 [Fox 12 Oregon]

PORTLAND -- A former advertising salesman at a Portland radio station is headed to prison.

David Neel was sentenced to 18 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to one charge of sex abuse in Linn County.

After serving his sentence, Neel will be placed on parole for five years.

Neel also faces charges in Multnomah County for abusing a child during a station sponsored event at Oaks Park skating rink.

Detectives say in November of last year, Neel used his position at the Mix 107.5 to gain access to kids.

Posted by Nancy at 04:00 PM | Comments (0)

Jackson's Lawyer Previews Strategy

February 26, 2005 [Associated Press]
By Tim Molloy

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - A judge has ruled that Michael Jackson (news)'s lawyers can present evidence at his child molestation trial that his accuser's mother has made abuse charges in the past.

The allegations relate to the credibility of the accuser's family. The defense is expected to portray them as after Jackson's money.

Jackson, 46, is accused of molesting a 13-year-old at his Neverland ranch in Santa Barbara County, plying the boy with alcohol and conspiring to hold him and his family captive.

The prosecution alleges the boy was molested after the airing of a TV documentary that showed the boy with Jackson, who said he allowed children to sleep in his bed.

Lead defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. laid out much of his case Friday during motions on whether evidence could be admitted about the accuser's family's lawsuit against J.C. Penney.

The lawsuit claimed J.C. Penney security guards beat them, held them against their will and groped the mother after the boy left a store without paying for clothes.

Superior Court Judge Rodney S. Melville agreed to allow jurors to hear about the lawsuit, although he was critical over how much Mesereau was revealing about his case ahead of opening statements, set to begin Monday.

"You almost laid out your whole case, not for me, but for other people," Melville said, referring to the courtroom packed with observers, including a dozen reporters. Others watched in an overflow room.

Mesereau told the court that the day after the alleged beating by guards, the mother returned to the store and hugged employees, then filed the lawsuit and later amended it to add the groping claim.

Mesereau also said the woman testified in the J.C. Penney case that her husband had never hit her, but later alleged in her divorce that he had beaten his family for years. She also accused her ex-husband of inappropriately touching her daughter, the lawyer said.

The family's lawsuit ended in a $150,000 settlement from J.C. Penney and Tower Records. Mesereau said the mother hid assets from the settlement to get welfare payments from Los Angeles County.

He also said the mother had her son ask celebrities including TV host Jay Leno for money and spent some of the funds on cosmetic surgery.

Prosecutor Ron Zonen argued that the issue was how the mother acquired the money, not what she spent it on, and that the issue was largely irrelevant.

"The question is whether a man who admits to sleeping with children was sleeping with this child, and what he did with this child. That's what this case is about," Zonen said.

Mesereau argued that it all showed a pattern of fraud.

"She got a breast enhancement and a tummy tuck and then told Mr. Jackson and all these people that she was destitute," the attorney said.

The judge ruled that during opening statements lawyers may not show the jury the entire "Living with Michael Jackson" documentary but may use a clip. The prosecution plans to use a two-minute segment. The first prosecution witness is expected to be the documentary's maker, Martin Bashir.

Posted by Nancy at 03:37 PM | Comments (0)

Income tax donations vital to child abuse prevention program

February 26, 2005 [The Charleston Gazette]
By Chandra Broadwater

With nearly $14,000 in grants from the state Children’s Trust Fund last year, workers at the East End Family Resource Center were taught about child abuse prevention.

Children and families in the community were provided resources they could not get on their own, said center Director Derrick Gibson. What’s more, programs like those at the center create awareness about a problem community members often deal with, he said.

“They come to us for help,” he said.

The East End Family Resource Center is just one example of many in the state that benefit from the state Children’s Trust Fund, said Jim McKay, development coordinator for the fund.

It supports more than 300 statewide partners in 22 teams that help children grow up free from child abuse and neglect. It is primarily supported with contributions of state citizens and businesses, in addition to matched federal funds.

The trust fund is also part of the Partners in Prevention Project, which includes groups like the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, the state Department of Health and Human Resources and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources.

Prevent Child Abuse West Virginia administers the trust.

This year, McKay said, the group wants to remind people to donate, simply by marking a box on their state income tax forms.

“We take in about $60,000 a year this way,” McKay said. “And we’d like to grow that as much as possible.”

The fund receives about 90 percent of money through $5 to $10 tax donations, he said. This program turns 20 this year.

Posted by Nancy at 03:17 PM | Comments (0)

February 25, 2005

Senate wants to review child abuse laws

February 25, 2005 [Silver City Sun-News]
By Walter Rubel

SANTA FE, New Mexico — After passing a bill earlier in the session calling for mandatory life sentences for the crime of child abuse resulting in death, the Senate passed a memorial Friday directing that a study be done of all the state’s child abuse laws.

Senate Minority Whip Mary Jane Garcia, D-Doña Ana, sponsored both the mandatory sentencing bill and the memorial that passed Friday. She said the memorial directs the Legislative Council to appoint a committee of experts to report back to the Legislature on the state’s laws dealing with child abuse.

“We would get the professional opinion of prosecutors, criminal defense attorneys and victims advocates,” she said.

During debate on the life-sentence bill passed earlier in the session, there was considerable discussion of the state’s laws dealing with negligence. Several senators expressed concern that those who were simply negligent in not preventing abuse were being treated the same as the actual abusers.
Garcia said those definitions and laws would be reviewed in the study.
Senate Majority Floor Leader Michael Sanchez, who argued against passage of the earlier bill mandating life sentences, said he supported the memorial.
“I think it gives this Legislature a chance to look at these laws and make them more in conformity with other laws in the state of New Mexico,” Sanchez said.
“I know that was part of the discussion that we had the other day when the bill went through, and I think it’s real important for us to look at these issues.”
Sen. Mark Boitano, R-Albuquerque, said that along with looking at laws and sentencing guidelines, the study should also examine ways to prevent child abuse.
“I think it’s important for the state to be aware that child abuse and domestic violence occurs in certain types of relationships,” he said. “Long-term married relationships have less incidence of domestic violence and less incidence of child abuse, where short-term noncommitted relationships, a lot of times cohabitating relationships, have higher incidence of domestic violence and higher incidence of child abuse.”
The memorial passed unanimously 27-0, and will now move to the House for consideration.

Walter Rubel can be reached at wrubel@lcsun-news.com

Posted by Nancy at 03:52 PM | Comments (0)

February 24, 2005

Jackson abuse trial jury selected

February 24, 2005 [Associated Press]

A jury of four men and eight women has been selected for the trial in California of pop star Michael Jackson on charges of child abuse.

Lawyers must now select eight alternates, who would take the place of any jurors dismissed during trial, at a court in Santa Maria.

Opening statements in the case could begin early as next week.

Mr Jackson denies plying a boy with alcohol and molesting him. The trial could last up to six months.

If convicted, he could face a maximum 21 years in prison.

Swift process

"We have a jury," Superior Court Judge Rodney S Melville announced.

The jurors range in age from 20 to 79.

The racial and ethnic breakdown appeared to be seven whites, four Hispanics and one Asian. There were no African Americans.

Jury selection had been expected to last several weeks, but took only five court days.

The process was interrupted by a one-week break due to the death of a lawyer's sister, and by another week break after Mr Jackson was hospitalised with flu-like symptoms.

Among the jurors was a woman who said her grandson was required to register as a sexual offender because of a crime.

Posted by Nancy at 03:48 PM | Comments (0)

Talking about kids: The blunt reality of child abuse on the South Coast

February 24, 2005 [The worldlink.com] Southwestern Oregon Publishing Co.
By Elise Hamner, City Editor

Coos County's statewide ranking for child abuse can get a person down, or it can get people talking.

Earlier this year, when the nonpartisan children's advocacy group Children First For Oregon reported the county's child abuse and neglect rate is 189 percent worse than the state average, a lot of people were talking locally. And they still are.

Tuesday the group's policy and outreach associate, Beth Kapsch, came to Coos Bay to discuss the report that compared the status of children health and safetywise county by county. And she did most of the talking, as about two dozen people at the Coos County Commission on Children and Families meeting listened.

Kapsch bluntly reminded them of the realities.

There were 9,447 confirmed child abuse/neglect cases in the state in 2003; about 490 in Coos County. Reports of child abuse in Oregon increased steadily over the past decade, by more than 61 percent, she said. There was no corresponding increase in the level of resources for investigations.

"Coos County is doing a really good job of going out and assessing those cases," she said.

Maybe that explains the county's higher confirmed child abuse statistics, she suggested, or maybe there just are more cases.

Kapsch's statistics left people shaking their heads. But more, she talked about how state policies and spending can help struggling families.

The state needs to expand alcohol and drug abuse prevention and treatment programs. It needs to adequately fund child welfare, police and court systems so all reports are investigated. And, Kapsch said, the state needs to be working for vulnerable families to get support, for instance to ensure they have housing and health care.

"It seems the No. 1 priority should be promoting economic opportunities, ..." interjected county Commissioner Nikki Whitty, also a commission member.

Kapsch didn't disagree. And she kept talking.

Foster care was next on her list. In 2003, she said, 339 kids locally stayed in foster homes at least once. Almost 27 percent of them were moved to more than one home that year.

Being a foster care provider is tough, she said. Add to that the fact there aren't enough homes and those families are taking in more kids - that brings even more instability.

Children First's staff of four is making sure individual Oregon lawmakers know foster care families need better support and continued reimbursement for taking in children. They are lobbying at the state Capitol, meeting with legislative committees. They are sending messages out to schools that something as simple as changing residency policies can make a huge difference on success for children forced to move from home to home.

"We want to make sure these kids stay in their home school," Kapsch said, adding there may be such legislation this session.

More, she said, older foster kids need continued insurance coverage and scholarships as they age out of the system.

Most of the people listening to Kapsch were commission members or people working in social service programs, but not all."It's very depressing, but it's not surprising," Coos Bay resident Marie Hopkins said of Kapsch's talk.

Hopkins moved the area a few years ago and said while her family has grown, she is concerned about the community's children. That's why she came. She said she felt listening would help her become a better voter, and she walked away having learned about one promising program.

"The summer food program was a real positive thing I haven't seen in other states," she said.

Kapsch had mentioned hunger. She reminded her audience that Oregon is a leader for having residents without enough food to eat. Coos County is no exception.

Eleven percent of eighth-graders here report family members skip meals because they don't have enough money, she said. The state needs to invest more in children's nutrition programs. During the school year, more than 2,800 Coos County children ate free or reduced-cost lunches at school. In summer, she said, only 906 local children received the service.

"During the summer, these kids are still hungry. These kids need to eat year-round," Kapsch said.

The state can help families free up money for food by giving out more food stamps and ensuring there is more affordable child care, housing and health care.

And it was health care, that Kapsch mentioned again and again.

"Medical debt is a huge reason that families become financially vulnerable," she said.

And Kapsch wasn't done speaking.

On any day in Oregon, more than 113,000 children have no health care; in this county more than 1,600 daily. The state needs to continue to support and increase school-based health centers where young people can get medical care. Marshfield High School will be next, she said, explaining a center is in the works.

All of the money does not have to come from the state, Kapsch said. Federal officials will pay $2.50 for every $1 Oregon invests in health insurance for children.

"So it makes sense. It makes good economical sense," she said.

This is the first county this year Kapsch has traveled to discuss Children First's report. She expects more counties to call. They always do. And when they invite her, she plans to show up talking.

Children First for Oregon http://www.cffo.org

Posted by Nancy at 03:29 PM | Comments (0)

February 23, 2005

Childrens Resource Center receives $30,000 donation

February 23, 2005 [TheWGALChannel.com]

Dauphin County commissioners presented a check for $30,000 Wednesday to the Children's Resource Center to help young victims of child abuse and aid in prosecutions.

The grant will be used to purchase videotape and audiotape equipment to conduct interviews of children who are suspected of being abused.

Last year, the Children's Resource Center helped 621 children from 25 counties.

Posted by Nancy at 03:20 PM | Comments (0)

February 22, 2005

Former Portsmouth Teacher Receives 45 Year Prison Term on Child Pornography Charges

February 22, 2005

A former Portsmouth school teacher was formally sentenced to 45 years in prison Tuesday after pleading guilty to 24 counts of child abuse and pornography.
Kelly Karl Bowen pled guilty back in December.

Under a plea agreement reached with prosecutors, Bowen also agreed to help authorities identify all of the victims so they can get proper counseling.

Bowen's alleged crimes date back as far as 2002, and prosecutors said the 24 counts involved 24 separate individuals. The individual charges included forcible sodomy, using an electronic means to procure minors for sexually explicit material, producing sexually explicit material, and possession of child pornography.

Authorities say Bowen, also a former dance instruction, was able to get computer e-mail addresses of children, then posed as a teen girl in Internet chat rooms and was able to get kids to send him nude pictures of themselves. Authorities say he had sex with one of the children. Just how many total children were involved, authorities can't say.

Bowen was arrested last June 23rd at this home in the 100 block of Oxford Drive in Portsmouth following an investigation by the Virginia Attorney General, Portsmouth and Gloucester Police.

At that time, he was charged with nine counts of possession of child pornography and one count of computer solicitation of a minor for sexual exploitation. More charges were added later.

According to the state attorney general's office, Bowen is a former teacher in the Portsmouth public school system and at the time of his initial arrest, was employed as an instructional specialist with Portsmouth public schools. Bowen was fired by the school system in August.

Police said in June they became aware of Bowen when a Gloucester police officer - working undercover online to catch sexual predators - came in contact with him in an online chat room June 17. Prosecutors say Bowen used the screen name 'HOTLILFLGURL.'

With additional information obtained through a court order in Gloucester County Circuit Court, the Gloucester County Sheriff's Office obtained a list of additional America Online (AOL) screen names also believed to belong to Bowen:

SEEKELLDAZZLE2
DASTARISOUT
KBSOCIALSTUDIES
HOTLILFLGURL
DOINGYOUWELL
SEXXICHICKNVA
DANCEDYNAMICSVA
HOTTYCHEEERGIRL
NONRATED
NONRATED2

For tips on keeping your children safe while they're online, visit the websites below:

GetNetWise.Org

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

SafeKids.Com

National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

Microsoft

Virginia Attorney General 'Safe Surfing' Website for Kids

You'll need Real Player to view this video clip.

Posted by Nancy at 04:18 PM | Comments (0)

February 21, 2005

Child porn crackdown leads to 19 arrests

February 21, 2005

New Zealand - School teachers and sports coaches were among 45 people interviewed by police in a crackdown on child pornography and abuse over the last two days.

The sting, codenamed Operation Tercel, resulted in 19 arrests and the seizure of 113 computers after police acted on information received from overseas enforcement agencies.

A further 22 people were "released on summons" after police executed 48 search warrants from Auckland to Invercargill, police said in a statement.

One person had 25 computers and hard drives.

The officer in charge of Operation Tercel, Detective Inspector Bernie Hollewand, said it was part of an international campaign against child abuse and pornography.

Of the 45 people interviewed, some had previous histories of sexual abuse and criminal sexual offending.

Their occupations included information technology, coaching and school teaching.

"This has been an inter-agency operation in New Zealand with police, customs and Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) acting on information received from overseas law enforcement agencies," Mr Hollewand said, adding the operation was not unique.

"Department of Internal Affairs routinely investigate and prosecute people for possession of objectionable material."

The operation had been in the planning stages for some time and a total of 101 police, DIA and customs staff were involved in the operation.

The arrests come just two weeks after Time Magazine questioned if New Zealand was becoming a "haven for paedophiles", alleging the country had failed to act on information from the United States.

That was hotly denied by Police Minister George Hawkins and even the Stop Demand Foundation, which campaigns against sexual violence against children, said the article was "sensationalised".

Mr Hollewand today warned the whole community had to be prepared to fight against Internet child abuse.

"Internet safety starts at home – parents and supervisors of children need to educate themselves and children on how to protect themselves from exploitation online."

Posted by Nancy at 11:32 PM | Comments (0)

February 20, 2005

67 clergy abuse complaints reported in '04

February 21, 2005 [Boston Globe] By Donovan Slack

The Catholic Archdiocese of Boston fielded 67 new complaints last year of sexual abuse by clergy, including one alleging abuse within the past 12 months, according to an archdiocese statement.

The allegations were made against 40 diocesan priests or deacons and 16 priests from religious orders, the statement said.

The bulk of the complaints involved alleged abuse in 1995 or earlier.

Results of the first annual survey of clergy abuse allegations and costs, conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University, were released Friday by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The Boston Archdiocese spent $5 million on settlements of abuse claims and about $1 million on treatment of victims and their families, the statement from the archdiocese said.

It spent $740,000 on child protection initiatives, including training.

Since the sexual abuse scandal became public three years ago, the archdiocese said it has trained between 30,000 and 40,000 children in how to respond to abusive situations, and it has conducted approximately 60,000 criminal background checks on priests, staff members, and volunteers.

Nationally, 1,048 people came forward in 2004 to say they had been sexually abused by a priest or deacon, the audit shows, and American dioceses spent $157 million last year on abuse-related costs, including legal settlements. The Vatican defrocked 148 priests in 2004

Posted by Nancy at 11:41 PM | Comments (0)

February 19, 2005

Charities call for new child protection laws

February 19, 2005

Children must be given the same protection against assault as adults receive from the law, charities said today.

Welsh children's charities believe this would be a major step towards stamping out child abuse, levels of which have not fallen for 30 years.

Read article by Madeleine Brindley

Posted by Nancy at 12:02 AM | Comments (0)

February 18, 2005

New Abuse Allegations In Catholic Church

February 18, 2005 [Associated Press]

Dubuque - Officials say that over the last two years, 34 individuals have reported incidents of child sexual abuse by priests to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Dubuque.

Archbishop Jerome Hanus says in a letter to Catholic households in the archdiocese that each person comes forward with a story and often much hurt and pain. The archdiocese covers 30 northeast Iowa counties and the cities of Waterloo, Cedar Rapids, Dubuque and Mason City.

Hanus' letter was meant to update members of the Archdiocese on its response to the sexual abuse scandal that has rocked the Catholic Church.

The nation's Roman Catholic bishops say the 34 incidents are among 1,092 new allegations of sexual abuse that have been reported against at least 756 priests and deacons across the country.

Posted by Nancy at 11:49 PM | Comments (0)

Child abuse allegations skyrocket in ACT

February 18, 2005

Australia/New Zealand - The ACT Youth and Family Services Minister, Katy Gallagher, says she is extremely concerned about a near doubling of allegations of child abuse in the current financial year.

Reports are expected to reach 8,000 - around 20 calls a day.

Reports are expected to reach 8,000 - around 20 calls a day.

Ms Gallagher says the increased pressure has prevented child protection workers implementing recommendations from the Vardon report, aimed at prevention.

She says this may be helped when 30 additional workers from overseas arrive in the next couple of months.

But Ms Gallagher says the team is being kept busy with up to 650 calls a month, leaving little time to work on other areas.

"Ninety per cent of our energy is focused on the statutory end and we're not doing as much in the early intervention and prevention side as I would like," she said.

"I guess that's the aim of this reform program - to turn it around from the statutory end to the prevention side.

"But whilst these numbers continue to increase, we are not in a position to do that."

Ms Gallagher says a worrying aspect of the figures is the number of cases being substantiated.

Posted by Nancy at 11:46 PM | Comments (0)

Report raises new allegations of priest abuse

February 18, 2005 [Associated Press]

WASHINGTON D.C. -- Roman Catholic bishops say over the last year they've received nearly 1,100 new allegations of sexual abuse by priest and deacons.

The head of the bishops' Office of Child and Youth Protection says half of the 756 accused priests had been named in previous abuse allegations.

Kathleen McChesney says most of the one-thousand-92 cases are decades old. She says 72 percent of the priests were either dead, defrocked or removed from public ministry before the newest allegations were made.

The bishops are releasing a new national audit of U-S dioceses. Teams of auditors visited churches across the country to evaluate compliance with the church's child protection policy.

Auditors found that the vast majority of dioceses have taken the required steps to protect children.

But the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said the audits were "minimal and misleading." The victims' group says bishops had too much control over who participated in the review.

Posted by Nancy at 11:35 PM | Comments (0)

Senate votes to increase child abuse penalties

February 18, 2005 [Associated Press]

SANTA FE -- The Senate wants to increase the criminal penalty for child abusers who kill their victims.

The Senate voted to increase the punishment for intentionally abusing a child, resulting in the child's death.

The punishment would be life in prison -- which in New Mexico means 30 years.

Current law doesn't distinguish between abuse that results in great bodily harm and abuse that results in death.

The current penalty is 18 years in prison.

The measure passed on a vote of 30-to-8.

It now goes to the House.

Posted by Nancy at 11:28 PM | Comments (0)

February 17, 2005

Defrocked Baltimore Priest Guilty Of Child Sex Abuse Charges

February 17, 2005 [Associated Press]

BALTIMORE - A jury convicted defrocked priest Maurice Blackwell of three of the four child sex abuse counts involving Dontee Stokes, an altar boy who shot Blackwell years later.

The verdict follows roughly 5.5 hours of jury deliberations over two days.

Blackwell showed no sign of emotion as the verdicts were read. He was acquitted on one charge, the abuse charge dating from 1989. The three guilty verdicts were for offenses that allegedly took place in 1990 and later.

After the verdict, Stokes said he felt vindicated. Stokes said, "Mr. Blackwell was at no point on trial. It was all about me." Stokes admitted he is not a perfect person, but said he was right and Blackwell was wrong.

Blackwell, 58, was accused of molesting Stokes, 29, when Blackwell was a Roman Catholic priest and Stokes a teenager in Baltimore. Stokes shot Blackwell three years ago.

Defense attorney Kenneth Ravenell said he and his client are disappointed with the verdict and the way the case was handled. He objected to police testimony about other victims of abuse, and said the case was decided on evidence the jury shouldn't have heard.

Ravenell said he will seek a retrial. If that fails, he said he would appeal that decision.

The attorney who defended Stokes at his trial for the shooting, Warren Brown, said Stokes stood up for "all those who were afraid to come forward." Brown said there are no plans for a civil suit, debunking claims that Stokes was after money.

Prosecutor Jo Anne Stanton praised the jury, saying it rose to confront a difficult task. She praised Stokes' bravery for coming forward and facing the attacks on his credibility.

Meanwhile, another man who said he was abused as a teenager by Blackwell, Robert Martin, 50, of Baton Rouge, La., said justice was done. Martin was at Stokes' side throughout the trial.

Blackwell was stripped of his church authority after acknowledging having a sexual relationship with a teenage boy in the early 1970s. The Vatican defrocked him in October.

Posted by Nancy at 12:21 AM | Comments (0)

February 16, 2005

Westminster Man Pleads To Abuse Charge In Child's Death

February 16, 2005 [Associated Press]

Westminster, MD - A Westminster man will serve five years behind bars for his child abuse conviction in the death of his fiancee's young daughter.

Anthony Flakes, 48, pleaded guilty and was sentenced on Tuesday.

The girl, 14-month-old Mikayla Barrett, died on Thanksgiving Day 2003 about three hours after she was left in Flakes' care when her mother went to work.

The medical examiner ruled the case a homicide due to asphyxiation and blunt trauma. Prosecutors said Flakes gave varying accounts of what happened.

Under the plea agreement, charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter were dropped.

Stay with TheWBALChannel.com and 11 News for the latest news updates.

Posted by Nancy at 12:15 AM | Comments (0)

February 15, 2005

Defrocked Priest Sentenced for Raping Boy

February 15, 2005 [Associated Press]
By Denise Lavoie

Defrocked priest Paul Shanley, a central figure in the Boston Archdiocese clergy sex abuse scandal, was sentenced Tuesday to 12 to 15 years in prison for repeatedly molesting a boy at a suburban parish in the 1980s.

"It is difficult to imagine a more egregious misuse of trust and authority," Judge Stephen Neel said in imposing the term. But he turned aside a prosecutor's request for a life sentence

Shanley, 74, once known for a being a hip "street priest" who reached out to troubled children and homosexuals, was convicted last week of two counts each of child rape and indecent assault and battery on a child.

He will eligible for parole after serving two-thirds of his sentence. He was also sentenced to 10 years' probation.

The case hinged on the reliability of the accuser's memories of the abuse, which he said he recovered three years ago as the clergy sex abuse scandal unfolded in the media.

Prosecutor Lynn Rooney had recommended a life sentence, saying Shanley used his position of authority to gain the trust of the boys he then molested.

"He used his collar and he used his worshipped status in that community," Rooney said. "There has been no remorse shown on the part of this defendant. There has been no acceptance of responsibility."

His lawyer, Frank Mondano, did not make a specific sentencing recommendation but asked Neel to allow Shanley to serve his sentence in a county house of correction rather than at a state prison.

He also said the prosecution's case was built on "vilification, half truths and lies." He has said he plans to appeal.

Shanley's accuser, now a 27-year-old firefighter in suburban Boston, said the former priest would pull him from Sunday morning catechism classes at St. Jean's parish in Newton and rape and fondle him. The abuse began in 1983, when he was 6 years old, and continued for six years, he said.

Rooney read a written statement by Shanley's accuser.

"I want him to die in prison," he said. "I hope it is slow and painful."

His wife addressed Shanley in court Tuesday, saying "no words can ever explain my disgust for you. You are a coward. You hid behind God."

"You robbed my little boy of his innocence," the accuser's father told Shanley. "You destroyed his understanding of good and bad and right and wrong."

Some inmate advocates say whatever prison term Shanley gets could amount to a death sentence.

Another key figure in the scandal in Massachusetts, former priest John Geoghan, was beaten and strangled behind bars in 2003, a year after being convicted of molesting a 10-year-old boy. A fellow prisoner later told investigators he killed Geoghan "to save the children."

"He's so high-profile that that puts a big target on his back," said James Pingeon, a lawyer at Massachusetts Correctional Legal Services, a group that provides civil legal services to inmates. "We feel concerned. Obviously, he's a vulnerable person because of his notoriety and his age."

Posted by Nancy at 09:21 AM | Comments (0)

Bill transfers child care inspections from Health Department to DHS

February 15, 2005 [Associated Press]

JACKSON Mississippi - The head of the state Department of Human Services wants his agency to take over the responsibility of licensing and regulating the state's more than 1,700 child care facilities.

Currently, those duties fall to the state Department of Health, but DHS executive director Don Taylor says his agency can do the job more efficiently.

The Senate has passed a bill that would make the switch. The legislation is now headed to the House.

The Health Department has 20 field survey staff who inspect a host of regulations at the facilities, including fire safety, the playground area and the number of child-to-staff ratio.

"When we get allegations of abuse, sometimes they come here and sometimes they go to DHS. Certainly, there is some overlap," said Health Department spokeswoman Liz Sharlot.

Taylor said the ratio of inspectors to facilities is 1-to-88. He said a report from the legislative Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review committee recommends a 1-to-75 ratio.

"I've gotten no complaints about the kind of job that the Department of Health has been doing," Taylor said.

The Health Department receives $1 million in funding to conduct inspections that could be more efficiently used at DHS, Taylor said. Taylor said the Health Department spends more than $100,000 on "indirect costs" and DHS could use that money to hire three or four additional inspectors.

No one would lose their job. The inspectors would just begin working for DHS, Taylor said.

Senate Public Health Committee Chairman Alan Nunnelee, R-Tupelo, who filed the bill, said DHS would begin checking the facilities' educational component and "communicate to parents how effectively that facility is helping their child be prepared to start school."

Nunnelee said currently no agency is evaluating the educational component.

The bill is Senate Bill 2367

Posted by Nancy at 08:25 AM | Comments (0)

February 14, 2005

Barnardos tells of Ulster's growing trade in child sex

February 14, 2005 [Belfast Telegraph] By Jonathan McCambridge

Children's charity Barnardos has warned about the growing number of young people being illegally brought to the province as child prostitutes.

The charity and the PSNI recently briefed the Policing Board on the growing problem of sexual exploitation of children through prostitution and trafficking.

Barnardos is running a campaign 'Beyond the Shadows' as well as awareness training programmes.

Jacqui Montgomery Devlin from Barnardos said: "Sexual exploitation is a hidden problem and just because people don't see it on the streets doesn't mean it is not happening here.

"Our task has been to initiate an awareness training programme on this and to date we have spoken to more than 1,000 people working in social and youth work, education, housing and members of the PSNI."

The charity also stressed the dangers of new technologies such as mobile phones and the Internet.

It said the use of such technologies has made the abuse of children through prostitution even easier to hide.

Detective Chief Inspector William McAuley said: "Police recognise that child sexual abuse throughout the UK has become a very significant issue for society.

"Recorded cases are increasing year on year and neither the process of crime recording, the national crime survey for the NI Crime Survey have picked up on the size of the problem.

"We know from research carried out by both statutory and non-statutory child protection agencies that somewhere around 70% of child sexual abuse does not come to the attention of the police. Of those cases that are reported only about 8% are cleared by way of criminal prosecution.

"It is important that statutory bodies now start directing resources towards pro-active rather than reactive initiatives to address this serious issue."

Policing Board vice-chairman Denis Bradley said: "The protection of children from abuse including sexual exploitation is the responsibility of all in the wider community."

Posted by Nancy at 08:35 PM | Comments (0)

Vicar talks about effects of abuse charges

February 14, 2005 [Herald Star]

STEUBENVILLE - Much has been said in the media and on the street in the past few years concerning the Catholic Church's handling of the sexual abuse charges filed against priests.

On Friday, Monsignor Kurt Kemo, vicar general director of child protection for the Diocese of Steubenville, talked with members of the Steubenville Rotary Club about these allegations and what the church and local Catholic officials are doing to prevent further abuse.

Kemo said the charges brought to light in 2000 forced the church to repent of its past sins and work to make sure they did not happen in the future.

Kemo said that, locally, the diocese has filed more than 18,000 background checks, including those for priests, teachers and other people involved in work with children.

He stressed the importance of families getting involved and educating themselves in the fight against abuse.

"When we had a meeting to discuss ways to prevent child abuse, only five parents showed up. That is disturbing. The abuse by priests was picked up on by the media, but the truth is, abuse is happening in all areas where children are involved, especially in homes with stepparents," said Kemo.

Kemo said he was proud that the Catholic Church in the United States was on the forefront of addressing the sexual abuse battle.

"The church in the United States has shown an absolute intolerance for the abuse, and I am proud to be a part of that," said Kemo.

He said that many precautions are being taken, though no cases have come forward in this area that point to abuse by church workers.

"For example, we now mandate that two adults or persons of authority be present when there are children involved. There has been some backlash for this rule, but we feel it is important to eliminate any scenario where abuse could take place," said Kemo.

Kemo added that in the fight against abuse, citizens must err on the side of caution.

"There is a fine line between discipline and abuse, and when it comes to coaching, there is a fine line between motivation and abuse. If a person in authority sees that line coming close to being crossed, he or she has a responsibility to report it," he said.

Posted by Nancy at 10:43 AM | Comments (0)

February 13, 2005

Child neglect: A child's nightmare

February 13, 2005 [Sun Star]

STATISTICS from the Women and Children Concerns Division of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Region 7 show 552 cases of abuse against children from January to July, 2004 alone last year.

Nationwide, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) served 10,045 cases in 2002. And 5.4 percent of these are cases involving child neglect.

It is obvious that child neglect cases are incidents less reported. Social workers say the number does not mean that cases of child neglect are few. It means that cases are unreported because of the notion that child neglect is a normal domestic problem.

Philboneri B. Duran, Social Welfare Officer II of the city's DSWD, believes cases of child neglect in the country and in Dumaguete City are high, but to confirm them is difficult for lack of evidences.

"All they could bring are stories and attestations, unlike reporting physical or sexual abuses where they could show scratches, bruises, or medical documents," Ms Duran said.

Filipino children, she said, are prone to this abuse because the Philippines is a Third World Country.

"Poverty," the social worker said, is one big reason for this abuse.

Duran explained that when parents do not earn enough, they either double their jobs, work abroad, work as helpers, or use their vices as scapegoat and get trapped in it. Consequently, they would have lesser time to attend to their children, much less give them the basic emotional, physical, and psychological needs they need.

Their right to a wholesome family life to provide them love, care and understanding, guidance and counseling, and moral and material security, is violated, she said.

Furthermore, the social worker said, parents trapped in vices like illegal drugs and hard liquor, do not only neglect their children but turn them victims of physical and sexual abuse.

Duran said children have a right to protection against exploitation, bad influences, hazards, and other conditions prejudicial to their physical, mental, emotional, social, and moral development.

Domestic violence is another cause of child neglect. Chronic disputes between parents that lead to separation or divorce very much affect children, she said. Parents, Duran added tend to get trapped within their own shells of healing and recovery making them less sensitive or attentive to their children's psychological and emotional needs.

In some isolated cases, children are neglected because their parents are psychologically ill or mentally sick. Many street children, whose parents are usually street dwellers, turn into beggars, drug addicts, or thieves. (Earnest Hope Tinambacan/SU Mass Communication Intern)

Posted by Nancy at 08:54 PM | Comments (0)

February 12, 2005

Four Priests Defrocked for Alleged Abuse

February 12, 2005 [Associated Press}

BOSTON — Four priests accused of sexually abusing children have been defrocked by the Vatican, the Boston Archdiocese said.

Robert D. Fay, Kelvin Iguabita, Bernard Lane and Robert Ward are "no longer in the clerical state," meaning they can no longer function as priests and will no longer receive any financial support from the Boston Archdiocese, the archdiocese announced Friday.

Iguabita was convicted in June 2003 of raping a 15-year-old girl while he was assigned to a church in Haverhill in 2000. He was sentenced to 12 to 14 years in prison.

Lane was accused by at least 17 men of abusing them as children. Some of the alleged abuse took place at the Alpha Omega House for troubled youth in Littleton, a facility he founded and directed in the 1970s. Lane retired in 1999, but remained a priest.

Fay was accused of molesting a Melrose teenager in the 1970s at a New Hampshire home, according to a lawsuit included in Fay's archdiocese personnel file. He has denied the allegations.

Ward was suspended by the archdiocese in February 2002 after it received an allegation of sexual misconduct involving a minor. Ward previously had several church assignments and later worked in the archdiocese's development office.

The four men can no longer perform any priestly duties, with the exception of offering absolution to the dying.

Several other priests from the Boston Archdiocese have been defrocked after being accused of sexual abuse, including John Geoghan, who was convicted in 2002 of molesting a 10-year-old boy and was killed in prison in 2003.

Paul Shanley, who was convicted earlier this week on child rape and indecent assault charges, was defrocked last year.

Posted by Nancy at 03:22 PM | Comments (0)

February 11, 2005

Priest's assailant recalls sex abuse

February 11, 2005 [Associated Press]

BALTIMORE (AP) - A man who shot and wounded a former priest three years ago, accusing him of abuse, testified against him Friday.

The former priest, Maurice Blackwell, is charged with four counts of child sex abuse. His accuser, Dontee Stokes, served home detention for accosting him on a city street in 2002 and shooting him.

Stokes, 29, said pats on the back and ear-tugging from the popular priest led to sexual molestation. But the former altar boy acknowledged that he told no one about the abuse until a year after it ended.

"I didn't want to get him in trouble and have him removed," Stokes said.

Defense attorney Kenneth Ravenell suggested Stokes has trouble distinguishing between fantasy and reality, referring to reports from psychologists after Stokes' arrest for shooting Blackwell, and Stokes' belief that a friend who died once took possession of his body.

Stokes acknowledged the out-of-body experiences, testifying "It has happened kind of often."

But he emphasized the alleged abuse was real. "Mr. Blackwell did what I said he did to me," Stokes testified.

In opening statements earlier Friday, lawyers for Blackwell described Stokes as a confused young man, afraid to admit he was a homosexual for fear of being ostracized by his family.

Prosecutors disagreed.

"This is a case about faith and trust and a violation of that faith and trust," prosecutor Joanne Stanton said.

Once a highly regarded pastor at St. Edward's, Blackwell is accused of abusing Stokes between 1989 and 1992. He faces up to 60 years in prison if convicted.

Stokes made his allegations in 1993, at age 17, but prosecutors declined to press charges, citing insufficient evidence. Blackwell was returned to the church after receiving psychological counseling.

Blackwell was stripped of his church authority in 1998, after acknowledging having a sexual relationship with a teenage boy in the early 1970s.

In May 2002, in the midst of the national scandal involving Catholic priests, Stokes confronted Blackwell on a city street and shot him three times. After the shooting, prosecutors reviewed Stokes' allegations and charged Blackwell.

Stokes was acquitted of attempted murder in December 2002, but convicted on gun charges.

Posted by Nancy at 03:45 PM | Comments (0)

Teachers union won't back mandatory child abuse reporting

February 11, 2005 [Australian Broadcasting]

The Australian Education Union (AEU) says it does not support the introduction of the mandatory reporting of child abuse in Western Australia.

The issue has been raised by the Coalition following revelations a nurse at Princess Margaret Hospital was investigated last year after being accused of inappropriately dealing with a patient.

Police dropped the matter because of a lack of evidence and the nurse was allowed to return to work, but later resigned.

The union's Mike Keely says schools presently contact the Department of Community Development if they believe a student is being abused.

He says making it a legal requirement for teachers to contact police would deter children from coming forward.

"I understand fully the reason why people would think that legally required mandatory reporting would be more effective," he said.

"That's not our understanding and until we have demonstrated proof that that's a better way of doing it then we would keep on doing it the way we're doing it now."

Posted by Nancy at 03:32 PM | Comments (0)

Planning council to fight child abuse, neglect

February 11, 2005 [Press of Atlantic City] By Joyce Vanaman

BRIDGETON - When David Mallory provides statistics about Cumberland County's high rate of child abuse and neglect cases, he doesn't view them as faceless numbers, but as people in need of help.

Mallory, the Cumberland County district office manager for the Division of Youth and Family Services, has worked with DYFS for 40 years. He said Thursday: "Our aim is prevention. I would like to work myself out of a job."

That's not likely to happen, but Mallory said he is pleased with the effort being made by some 30 people who met recently to discuss the establishment of a state-mandated Child Welfare Planning Council in Cumberland County.

The purpose of the council, according to Ethan Aronoff, coordinator of the Cumberland County Human Services Advisory Council, is to reduce the number of families that become involved with DYFS and to help support healthy families, stronger communities and safe children.

Based on statistics from 2002, Cumberland County is No. 1 in the state for the percentage of child abuse and neglect cases reported per 1,000 children. The number of cases was 1,763, Mallory said.

Cumberland County was No. 2 in families with reported problems per 1,000 children. The number was 1,028 families.

"We were number three in the percent of substantiated reports," Mallory said. "Every time we get a report, we check to see if it is valid.

"I feel the Child Welfare Council is going to be a wonderful opportunity for people to become involved with child welfare efforts," Mallory said. "I think it will be a big help to DYFS. It will help children when people are involved in an organized way to deal with the issues of child abuse and neglect."

Aronoff explained: "The new Child Welfare Planning Council will come under the Division of Prevention and Community Partnerships of the New Jersey Department of Human Services. The council is to be made up with 49 percent service providers, government leaders and human service providers, with 51 percent to be community residents, hopefully residents from the hot spots that have been identified."

The hot spots are areas where the highest numbers of cases of child abuse and neglect are received by DYFS, according to Aronoff. These primarily are the center-city areas of Bridgeton, Vineland and Millville.

Neighborhood hubs will be established, with information and referral services. They will be staffed initially by volunteers and eventually by paid professionals when funds become available.

Aronoff emphasized that the planning council, when established, will work cooperatively with existing county-level planning bodies by sharing information and conducting planning and assessment activities.

"The council will assess the strengths and needs of Cumberland County communities and identify existing resources, duplication and gaps in services," Aronoff said. Its goal is to make sure that a range of services - from primary prevention to intensive intervention - is available and accessible to all families.

Aronoff said the group discussing the establishment of the planning council included representatives from the cities of Bridgeton, Millville and Vineland and from their school systems; N.J. Department of Human Services, Cumberland County Human Services Advisory Council, Cumberland County DYFS, Rowan University, Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, Rutgers University, area service providers and community residents.

The next meeting is scheduled for Feb. 23. For more information, call Aronoff at (856) 453-7804

Posted by Nancy at 10:46 AM | Comments (0)

Accuser who shot ex-priest testifies

Dontee Stokes says pats on the back led to molestation
February 11, 2005 [Associated Press]

The former priest, Maurice Blackwell, is charged with four counts of child sex abuse.

His accuser, Dontee Stokes, served home detention for accosting him on a city street in 2002 and shooting him.

Using explicit language and demonstrating with gestures, Stokes, 29, said pats on the back and ear-tugging from the popular priest led to sexual molestation.

He testified he was "in disbelief" and "disgusted."

But the former altar boy acknowledged that he told no one about the abuse until a year after it ended.

"I didn't want to get him in trouble and have him removed," Stokes said.

In opening statements earlier Friday, lawyers for Blackwell described Stokes as a confused young man afraid to admit he was a homosexual for fear of being ostrascized by his family.

Prosecutors disagreed.

"This is a case about faith and trust and a violation of that faith and trust," said prosecutor Joanne Stanton.

Once a highly regarded pastor at St. Edward's Catholic Church in Baltimore, Blackwell is accused of abusing Stokes between 1989 and 1992. He faces up to 60 years in prison if convicted.

Stokes made his allegations in 1993, at age 17, but prosecutors declined to press charges, citing insufficient evidence.

Blackwell was returned to the church after receiving psychological counseling.

Blackwell was stripped of his church authority in 1998, after acknowledging having a sexual relationship with a teenage boy in the early 1970s. He was defrocked by the Vatican in October.

In May 2002, in the midst of the national scandal involving Catholic priests, Stokes confronted Blackwell on a city street and shot him three times.

After the shooting, prosecutors reviewed Stokes' allegations and charged Blackwell.

Stokes was acquitted of attempted murder in December 2002, but convicted on gun charges.

Posted by Nancy at 01:38 AM | Comments (0)

Montgomery woman convicted of child abuse in toddler scalding

February 11, 2005 [The Associated Press]

A jury convicted a Montgomery woman Friday of child abuse for severely scalding a 2-year-old boy in her foster care a year ago.

Velnetia Williams, 38, who may receive up to 10 years in prison, remains free on $10,000 bond. She is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 28

Williams had testified that the boy turned scalding water on himself in a bathtub while she had left him for a few seconds to get his pajamas, according to the Montgomery Advertiser, which reported Friday's verdict.

She also told the court she wasn't aware of the seriousness of the burns until the following day. Williams said she had almost arrived at the emergency room when she panicked and returned home, fearing repercussions from the Department of Human Resources. A pastor finally convinced her to seek medical attention for the child.

"He had little blisters, but they weren't big or major," she testified.

But a state's expert, Dr. James Lauridson, rebutted her testimony, saying the photographs of the burns indicated that hot water was poured down the back of the child's pants.

Lauridson presented graphic photographs to the jury of the boy's second-degree burns, saying the blistering could not have occurred in the bathtub as Williams had suggested.

"He would have backed out," the doctor testified. "People don't stay in hot water long enough to get second-degree burns."

Williams testified that she had cared for 16 children under DHR's foster care program and never had a serious problems in the past, though she did admit to using corporal punishment on some of the children.

Prosecutors, however, elicited testimony from Williams that two children had been removed from her care in 2000 and 2001

Posted by Nancy at 01:27 AM | Comments (0)

February 10, 2005

Child abuse prevalent in Miss.

February 10, 2005 [Daily Mississippian]
By Hannah Donegan, Staff Reporter

Though there have been numerous cases of child abuse in the news, many people do not believe child abuse can happen in their family or community. However, child abuse is prevalent everywhere, including Mississippi.

According to the Associated Press, a Florida couple, John and Linda Dollar, faces multiple counts of aggravated child abuse. The Dollars’ adopted children had been subjected to multiple forms of child abuse, including malnutrition, electric shock and being locked in a closet.

A young Texas couple also faces charges of injuring a child after they took their 6-month-old daughter to the hospital. The baby suffered from several broken bones, her tongue had been nearly severed and she had been sexually assaulted. The baby’s 15-month-old sister had also been abused.

The Mississippi Code, in Section 43-21-105, defines an abused child as a child whose parent, guardian or any other person responsible for the child, whether or not they are legally obligated, has caused sexual abuse or exploitation, emotional abuse, mental injury, non-accidental physical injury or other mistreatment.

Physical discipline is not considered abuse as long as it is performed in a reasonable manner by a parent, guardian or custodian, according to the statute.

In 2003, Mississippi Department of Human Services investigated 17,278 reports of child abuse involving 28,388 children in the state.

There were 835 cases of evidenced sexual abuse, 1,341 evidenced cases of physical abuse and 288 evidenced cases of emotional abuse, according to the Mississippi DHS Web site, http://www.mdh.state.ms.us.

Repeated attempts to get information from the Lafayette County Department of Human Services failed.

There is no substantiation needed to report abuse, according to Lea Anne Lemmons, interim executive directory of the Family Crisis Center of Northwest Mississippi.

“You don’t have to have any proof that anything’s happened,” Lemmons said.

Because there are no federal child abuse reporting laws, laws vary from state to state, according to Sam Davis, dean and professor of law at Ole Miss.

Section 43-21-353 of the Mississippi Code puts a mandate on attorneys, physicians, healthcare workers such as nurses, psychologists, ministers, law enforcement officers, caregivers and school employees to report abuse.

The first child abuse reporting laws in the United States were enacted in the early- to mid-1960s after medical studies revealled broken bones, bruises, lacerations and burns were identified in many children as Battered Child Syndrome, Davis said.

These laws set up mandates determing who was required to report abuse and gave immunity from civil suits to those who report abuse in good faith, according to Davis.

According to Davis, the definition of child abuse has been expanding to include psychological and emotional abuse, as well as sexual abuse which may or may not result in a physical injury.

Exploitation, such as child pornography, was added after a longer period of time starting in the late 1980s and into the 1990s, Davis said.

Davis also said the average person may not know a lot about abuse or be able to identify abuse when they see it

“If in doubt, report it,” Davis said.

In 2002, there were 1,400 child fatalities due to abuse and neglect nationwide.

Of these deaths, 41 percent were under the age of 1, according to the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information.

One or both parents were involved in 79 percent of the fatalities.

Posted by Nancy at 03:37 PM | Comments (0)

February 09, 2005

State: 19 deaths in homes with previous child abuse

February 9, 2005 [Associated Press]

Abuse deaths totaled 57 over a 12-month period from 2003 to 2004

INDIANAPOLIS — Child protection caseworkers had confirmed cases of abuse or neglect in the homes of at least 19 children who died during a 12-month period that ended last year, a new state report said.

Those deaths were among 57 that state officials blamed on abuse for the time between July 2003 and the end of June 2004

The 19 deaths in homes with previous abuse cases represented an increase from 11 during the same time one year earlier. The report released Monday by the state Department of Child Services said five of the deaths were in families that had three or more substantiated cases of abuse or neglect.

James Payne, who became the agency’s director last month, said those 19 deaths were “unacceptable,” but that they could reflect the struggles of caseworkers overwhelmed by a large number of cases they must handle.

“When you are struggling just to stop the bleeding, the prevention message doesn’t always get through,” Payne told The Indianapolis Star for a story Tuesday.

Statewide, 22 deaths were attributed to abuse and 35 were blamed on neglect – defined as failure to provide for basic needs and safety.

As has been the trend in past years, children younger than 6 accounted for the majority of the state’s child abuse and neglect fatalities. The report showed three out of four abuse victims and half the neglect victims were 5 or younger. Parents were the main perpetrators, with those between ages 20 and 24 making up the largest group.

Payne said the report countered common stereotypes about abuse and neglect.

“What people like to think is that this is somebody else — ‘those people,’” he said. “But when we look at these statistics, it shows that abuse and neglect and the stress factors cut across those perceived lines of age, race, gender and marital status.”

Child advocates say that while the 19 deaths that occurred in families with previous abuse cases showed the need for more effective government services, the other 38 deaths indicated the need for solutions beyond the child protection agency.

“In many cases, people like spouses, parents, grandparents and neighbors often have more information than CPS,” said Dr. Roberta Hibbard, chairwoman of the Child Abuse Program at Riley Hospital for Children. “In a significant number of the devastating and lethal cases I see, there were clues but everyone wanted to believe the innocent story.”

The 57 child abuse or neglect deaths reported during the 12-month period continued a decade-long trend of at least one such death during an average week in Indiana. Those deaths were six more than the number recorded during the previous year.

Abuse causes
Causes of the abuse or neglect deaths of 57 children in Indiana between July 2003 and the end of June 2004:

♦Physical abuse and beating: 12
♦Motor-vehicle accident: 11
♦Fire: 6
♦Drowning: 5
♦Poisoning: 5
♦Gun-related: 4
♦Medical neglect: 4
♦Other or undetermined: 10

Source: Indiana Department of Child Services

Posted by Nancy at 03:49 PM | Comments (0)

Province celebrates Nat'l Awareness Week for Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse, Exploitation

February 9, 2005

Phillipines - SEEKING to heighten the awareness of the public through the local government units about sexual abuse and exploitation of children, the Iloilo Provincial Government thru the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO) is celebrating a weeklong National Awareness Week for Prevention of Child Abuse and Exploitation which kicked off last February 6

Alarmed with the present situation, PSWDO Planning Officer IV Nema A. Villan noted an increasing incidence of physical and sexual abuse against children from 2002-2004. Citing the report from the Iloilo Provincial Police Command, a total of 337 were reported cases of abuse against children: 325 were filed in court, 10 were settled and 2 pending cases.

The latest that was reported she said was a rape and murder case of a 12-year-old girl from Dingle.

Villa said that this year's theme "Magkaisa! Labanan ang Pang-aabusong Sekswal sa mga Bata," aims to encourage everybody to extend a helping hand to curb this problem.

The survey report of the International Labor Organization International Programme for the Elimination of Child Labor (ILO/IPEC) on working children early this year showed that there is a big number of children working in sugarcane plantations, in deep-sea fishing, in pyrotechnics, as child domestic workers and children who are commercially and sexually exploited.

The City of Passi posted the highest number of children working, which totaled to 902; 832 were working in sugarcane plantations, 68 as child domestic workers, 1 in deep sea fishing and 1 in pyrotechnics.

The town of Concepcion followed with 138 reported cases - 81 in deep-sea fishing, 54 as child domestic workers, 2 in pyrotechnics and 1 in sugarcane plantation.

Estancia posted 52 reported cases; of the number, 43 work in deep-sea fishing, 8 as child domestic workers and 1 in pyrotechnics.

Ajuy has 28 recorded cases - 18 in deep-sea fishing while 10 in child domestic workers.

These data were also presented by Iloilo Gov. Niel D. Tupas, Sr. in the State of the Children Report during the celebration of Children's Month on October last year.

The Provincial Council for the Protection of Children (PCPC) will be drafting the Local Code for Children that addresses situation of children in the province. The proposed measure shall respond to the negative conditions of children and supportive of the significant programs of the local government units on children.

The proposed code shall like wise address the identified gaps in the implementation of the national laws. The activity needs the commitment and total participation of those legally mandated to do the task as well as those of the advocate volunteers.

In support of this move, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan has approved Resolution No. 2004-149 chaired by Board Members Cecelia H. Capadosa and Domingo B. Oso, Jr. "Approving and adopting the Local Development Plan for Children (LDPC) and the Local Investment Plan for Children (LIPC) of the Provincial Council for the Protection of Children (PCPC) from year 2004-2007, as a commitment to the child-friendly movement.

The Province also drafted the Local Investment Plan for Children with a total cost of P23 million. Of the amount P8,130,267.50 (35.25 percent ) will be allocated to survival, P12,336,480.00 (53.49 percent ) to development, P1,844,800.00 (8.01 percent) to protection and P750,000.00 (3.25 percent) participation.

Meanwhile, the PSWDO as the lead agency for child welfare and protection thru Mrs. Neneth Q. Pador is requesting everyone to participate in the movement for child protection against sexual abuse and exploitation.

Posted by Nancy at 06:51 AM | Comments (0)

February 08, 2005

‘Victory,’ vindication: Former priest convicted in landmark abuse case

February 8, 2005 [Boston Herald]
By Brian Ballou and J.M. Lawrence

Defrocked Roman Catholic priest Paul Shanley became a convicted child rapist yesterday, bringing an end to a case that came to embody the church abuse crisis that shook the Boston archdiocese.

"This is a victory for the many, many people victimized by Paul Shanley", said attorney Carmen Durso, representing seven people who claim they were sexually abused by Shanley between 1963 and 1994.

At trial, Shanley's accuser testified he was groped and raped by Shanley in the early 1980s at St. Jean's Catholic Church in Newton. The victim, a member of the parish's CCD class when Shanley was assigned there, said Shanley carried out the assaults beginning when he was 6 in the bathroom, the rectory, the pews and the confessional.

The jury deliberated for 14 hours before finding Shanley guilty of two counts of child rape and two counts of indecent assault and battery on a child.

Juror Patrick Kierce said prosecutor Lynn Rooney nailed the case. ``She hit every point she needed to. Where they put some bit of doubt, she canceled it when she got back up,'' Kierce said last night.

Kierce said a combination of the victim's ``heartfelt'' testimony coupled with the testimony of the victim's wife made him believe Shanley was a child molester.

Kierce was unimpressed by defense attorney Frank Mondano's only witness, a California psychologist who testified she did not believe victims could recover memories of trauma years later. The juror said he found Elizabeth Loftus' statements ``contradictory.''

Middlesex District Attorney Martha Coakley revealed yesterday how close the case came to falling apart two weeks ago when the accuser made a tearful plea to spare him from another day of emotionally wrenching testimony.

``If that young man had not come back into the courtroom, we would have had to let the case go,'' Coakley said. ``This has been a very long journey for everyone involved in this case, but especially for the victim and his family.''

One of Durso's clients, John Harris, said, ``So many of us had to count on this case for our own justice since our cases couldn't be brought to court because of the statute of limitations.''

Harris, 47, of Norwood said he was raped by Shanley when he was a 21-year-old seeking counseling from the former priest.

Shanley, 74, stood emotionless as the guilty verdicts were read yesterday, but several feet behind him, the 27-year-old man who dredged suppressed memories of abuse as a boy at the hands of Shanley buried his face in his hands, cried, then flashed a subdued smile to family members.

Soon after Shanley's bail was revoked and he was taken out of the courtroom, his niece, Teresa Shanley, said: "There are no winners today. There are only losers."

"It was painful to watch others sort through their memories, to put your fingers into other people's lives to make an enormously important decision," juror Victoria Blier said. "No matter how we decided there would have been one party left wounded."

Shanley, who plans to appeal the verdict, faces life in prison when sentenced Feb. 15 in Middlesex Superior Court.

Posted by Nancy at 12:42 AM | Comments (0)

Two scout leaders jailed for seven years

February 8, 2005

New Zealand - One of two scout leaders jailed for seven years today for child sex abuse, had more than 60,000 still images and movies of child porn, a court heard today.

Andrew John Pybus, 32, and Nigel Richard Fenemor, 48, were both jailed for seven years in the High Court at Auckland today. They were told they would serve a minimum non-parole period of three and a half years because the child sex abuse they admitted was so serious.

Pybus admitted representative charges of sexually abusing two boys, one under 12 and one under 16. He also admitted making and importing pornographic material.

Justice Cooper said Pybus had 61,823 pornographic images and that indicated "a consuming, perverted preoccupation".

Fenemor admitted charges of sexual violation, including anal sex, and representative charges of indecently assaulting a boy under 16.

The court heard both men sexually abused the same victim.

Both were scout leaders and had a relationship of trust with their victims.

Pybus befriended his first victim, and his victim's parents allowed their son to go on outings with Pybus.

His second victim was a friend of the first and Pybus' relationship with him also began in the context of the scouting movement.

Pybus used a digital camera to take several hundred pictures of the abuse of both victims.

Fenemor's sexual abuse began with fondling, masturbation and progressed to anal sex.

Justice Cooper said he doubted either man fully appreciated the psychological harm they had done to their victims and their families.

Both men expressed remorse for their offending, their lawyers said.

The judge told Pybus his two victims had been traumatised and had lost their chance of a normal life as children growing through teen years to adulthood.

"They are confused, betrayed and badly affected," he said.

"Their pain causes further pain for their parents and family."

Justice Cooper said the pain was exacerbated by feelings of guilt as they asked themselves whether they were responsible in any way.

He said there was no violence but the offending could be described as cruel because of the psychological consequences.

The starting point for both men was 10 years in jail but that would be reduced to seven years each because of their early guilty pleas and other mitigating factors, he said.

Outside the court, Pybus' lawyer Marie Dyhrberg said she hoped the case would deter others.

"In this day and age it is very hard to escape that with this sort of offending people will get caught irrespective of where they come from."

She said the men had watched porn before some of the offending but she did not believe there was a definite link between watching porn and child abuse.

"One can be interested in pornography and not necessarily act it out. It may be more likely that if one is acting it out, then one is also attracted to pornography."

She said it was to Pybus' credit he admitted the offending early.

He had written a letter to the family with strong expressions of remorse and never once tried to blame anyone but himself.

She said Pybus was "devastated" by the victim impact reports and would have to live with how deep the harm had gone.

Detective Sergeant Lloyd Schmid said the victims were extremely upset and may carry the scars for the rest of their lives.

Posted by Nancy at 12:33 AM | Comments (0)

February 07, 2005

Jury finds defrocked priest guilty of repeatedly molesting parishioner

February 7, 2005 [Associated Press]
By Denise Lavoie

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- The witness broke down as he told the jury how Father Paul Shanley pulled him out of catechism class and raped him repeatedly, starting when he was 6. "He told me nobody would ever believe me if I told anybody," he said.

On Monday, a jury believed him.

Shanley was convicted of raping and fondling him over a six-year period in the 1980s. The 74-year-old defrocked priest could get life in prison at sentencing Feb. 15. His bail was revoked and he was immediately led off to jail.

Shanley was the most notorious figure in the sex scandal that rocked the Boston Archdiocese, and his conviction on all four charges gives prosecutors an important victory in their effort to bring pedophile priests to justice for decades of abuse at parishes around the country.

His accuser, now a 27-year-old firefighter from suburban Boston, put his head down and sobbed as the verdicts were announced after a trial that turned on the reliability of what he claimed were recently recovered memories of the long-ago abuse. Shanley showed no emotion.

Frank Mondano, Shanley's lawyer, said he will appeal. "It appears that the absence of a case is not an impediment to securing a conviction," he said.

The accuser was one of at least two dozen men who claimed they had been molested by Shanley, who was a parish priest in Newton, a suburb about 10 miles west of Boston. The archdiocese's own personnel records showed that church officials knew Shanley publicly advocated sex between men and boys, yet continued to transfer him from parish to parish.

During the trial, the accuser testified in graphic detail that Shanley raped and groped him in the church bathroom, the rectory, the confessional and the pews.

The defense called just one witness -- a psychologist who said that so-called recovered memories can be false, even if the accuser ardently believes they are true. Shanley's lawyer argued that the man who accused Shanley was either mistaken or concocted the story with the help of personal injury lawyers to cash in on a multimillion-dollar settlement resulting from the sex scandal.

But the jury believed that memories can be repressed, one juror said.

"We agreed after discussion that you can experience something up to a point, and then not think about it and have plenty of other things in your life that are more important," Victoria Blier said.

Prosecutors said the accuser had no financial motivation in accusing Shanley of rape in the criminal case because he received his $500,000 settlement with the archdiocese nearly a year ago. They also cited his three days on stand, during which he sobbed and begged the judge not to force him to continue testifying

"The emotions were raw. They were real," prosecutor Lynn Rooney said in closing arguments.

Blier said both the settlement and the emotion were key.

"I think that people believed that the core of what the victim claimed was true, and I think a pervasive sentiment was he had already gotten a half-million dollar settlement," she said. "He knew that pursuing the criminal case was going to lay a painful life bare."

After Shanley was led out of the courtroom, his niece, Teresa Shanley, said: "There are no winners today. There are only losers. We're no closer to finding out the truth about this scandal or finding out what happened."

Rodney Ford, whose son Greg was one of three accusers dropped from the case, called the verdict "a relief for my son, and all the other victims."

"The validation that all the victims of Paul Shanley must feel today must be unbelievable," Ford said.

In a statement, the archdiocese said: "It is important for the Archdiocese of Boston, in this moment, to again apologize for the crimes and harm perpetrated against children by priests who held the trust and esteem of families and the community."

Shanley, once a long-haired, jeans-wearing "street priest" who worked with Boston's troubled youth, sat stoically for most of the trial, listening to his accuser's testimony with the help of a hearing aid.

Shanley is one of the few priests prosecutors have been able to bring charges against. Most priests accused of wrongdoing escaped prosecution because the statute of limitations ran out long ago. But shortly after leaving the Newton parish in 1989, Shanley left the state, effectively stopping the clock.

He was arrested in California at the height of the scandal in May 2002, and brought back to Massachusetts in handcuffs -- charged with raping four boys from the Newton parish. All four claimed they repressed memories of the abuse, then recovered them when the scandal broke.

But the case ran into numerous problems. In July, prosecutors dropped two of the accusers in what they said was a move to strengthen their case. Then, on the day jury selection began, they dropped a third accuser because they were unable to find him after a traumatic experience on the witness stand at a pretrial hearing last fall.

The clergy abuse scandal in Boston began in early 2002 when Cardinal Bernard Law acknowledged he shuffled a pedophile priest from parish to parish despite evidence priest had molested children. That priest, John Geoghan, was convicted of assault and was later killed in prison.

The scandal intensified later in 2002 when the church released Shanley's 800-page personnel file. Despite church teachings, he argued that homosexuality was OK, and pushed for gay rights. He called himself a "sexual expert" and advertised his counseling services in the alternative press.

Ultimately the state attorney general's office concluded that about 1,000 children in the Boston Archdiocese had been molested by more than 240 priests since the 1940s

Posted by Nancy at 11:18 PM | Comments (0)

Former priest convicted of abuse

February 7, 2005 [Associated Press]

A man who testified he was a sex-abuse victim of defrocked priest Paul Shanley broke down Monday in a Cambridge, Mass., courtroom after the former priest was convicted of child rape and indecent assault.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Defrocked priest Paul Shanley was convicted Monday of repeatedly raping and fondling a boy at his Roman Catholic church during the 1980s.

The conviction on all four charges gives prosecutors an important victory in their effort to bring pedophile priests to justice.

Shanley, 74, was the most notorious figure in a sex scandal that rocked the Boston Archdiocese.

He could get life in prison for two counts each of child rape and indecent assault and battery on a child when he is sentenced Feb. 15. His bail was revoked and he was led off to jail.

The victim, now 27, put his head down and sobbed as the verdicts were announced after a trial that turned on the reliability of what the man claimed were recovered memories of the long-ago abuse. Shanley showed no emotion.

At the trial, the accuser broke down on the stand as he testified in graphic detail that Shanley pulled him out of Sunday morning catechism classes and molested him in the bathroom, the rectory, the confessional and the pews starting when he was 6 and continuing for six years.

“He told me nobody would ever believe me if I told anybody,” he testified.

The accuser said he repressed his memories of the abuse but that they came flooding back three years ago, triggered by news coverage of the scandal that began in Boston and soon engulfed the church worldwide.

The defense called just one witness — a psychologist who said that so-called recovered memories can be false, even if the accuser ardently believes they are true. A lawyer for Shanley argued that the accuser was either mistaken or concocted the story with the help of personal injury lawyers.

The accuser, a firefighter in suburban Boston, was one of at least two dozen men who claimed they had been molested by Shanley.

Posted by Nancy at 01:27 PM | Comments (0)

Dad stymies perv mom

February 7, 2005 [New York Daily News]
By Lauren LaCapra - Daily News Writer

A Hicksville dad has been granted an order of protection against his ex-wife, a convicted sex offender, to keep her away from their two children.

Kathy Tuifel, 46, pleaded guilty on Aug. 11 to one count of second-degree rape and two counts of second-degree sexual abuse. The victim was a blind 11-year-old boy she was tutoring as a teacher's aide at Hicksville Middle School.

She is currently serving six months in jail, which will be followed by 10 years' probation.

After learning that Tuifel filed a petition to relax the conditions of her probation - which could allow her to come in close proximity to her children, 13 and 15 - her ex-husband, Robert Tuifel, moved to make sure she would not be allowed to gain custody or visitation when she is released from jail next Monday.

"I want her to get the help she needs," Robert Tuifel said Friday. "She is sick, that is obvious, but I don't think my kids should be gambled with. You shouldn't play Russian roulette with anyone's lives - especially kids."

He said Kathy Tuifel calls their children twice a week and writes, but the kids haven't seen her since she's been jailed and "they don't want her coming home."

The court, which granted the order of protection Friday, will decide on Kathy Tuifel's petition tomorrow.

"The war is not over; we won one battle," said Laura Ahearn, Robert Tuifel's lawyer.

In family court Friday, Child Protective Services also assailed Tuifel for alleged neglect of her own children. In addition, the children said that Tuifel threw food at them and caused them physical harm, claims which are still being investigated by Child Protective Services.

"She's really mentally disturbed and very dangerous to her children," Ahearn said. "She's a mother, but she's also a pedophile."

In November of 2001, the first incident between Tuifel and the victim occurred, when she touched the sixth-grader's genitals in her home, prosecutors said. About a week later, a similar incident occurred in her van as the two idled near a Hicksville park.

After Tuifel and the victim had sexual intercourse in her basement in March 2002, the boy told school officials and Tuifel was arrested, prosecutors said.

Tuifel, now a registered sex offender, could have been sentenced to five to 25 years on each count had she been convicted at trial, but the prosecution accepted a plea deal to spare the victim having to testify.

Posted by Nancy at 04:44 AM | Comments (0)

Ex-Congressman Sex Offender Told to Move Out of House

February 7, 2005 [Associated Press]

CHICAGO -- A former congressman who resigned after being convicted of having sex with an underage campaign worker has been ordered to leave his Chicago home because it is near an elementary school.

Police gave Mel Reynolds 30 days to move out of the house because of a state law that prohibits convicted sex offenders from living within 500 feet of a dense concentration of children, police department spokesman Dave Bayless said.

Reynolds, 53, has lived at the home on the city's South Side since 2001, according to public records.

Authorities discovered that Reynolds was living near the Salem Christian Academy when he checked in with police as part of a mandatory annual visit. New computer software identified the problem last month after comparing his address to nearby schools, day-care centers and playgrounds, Bayless said.

Telephone directories did not list a number for Reynolds, and he could not be reached for comment Sunday.

The Chicago Democrat resigned in 1995 after being convicted of sexual misconduct with a 16-year-old campaign worker. In 1997, he was convicted of fraudulently obtaining bank loans and diverting money intended for voter-registration drives into his campaign fund. He was sentenced to five years in prison in that case.

Reynolds served a total of 2 1/2 years in prison before President Clinton commuted his prison term in 2001.

Reynolds made a bid for the congressional seat held by Democratic U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. in 2004 but lost in the primary.

Posted by Nancy at 04:40 AM | Comments (0)

Victims of Child Abuse Receive Support

February 7, 2005 [The Intelligencer - Wheeling News-Register] By Lynn Davis

WHEELING - Young victims of physical or sexual abuse and their families have the support of Wheeling-based Harmony House, an advocacy center that works to reduce the trauma associated with child victimization. In turn, Harmony House seeks the support of the community it serves.

Commonly in cases of abuse, a child has to tell his story over and over to law enforcement officers, protective services workers, prosecutors and other lawyers. Director Leslie Vassilaros explained that Harmony House prevents this revictimization by conducting "forensic interviews" with the child.
"A forensic interview is a structured conversation with the child alleged to have been the victim of sexual abuse or extreme physical abuse," she said. "It is done in a legally sound, child-appropriate manner."

She meets with the child in a comfortable room at Harmony House's office at Ohio Valley Medical Center. The interviews are videotaped and transmitted via a closed circuit system to another room, where representatives of law enforcement, child protective services and the prosecuting attorney observe. This practice reduces the number of times the child will have to recount his or her story.

"The goal is to get information that substantiates or refutes the allegation of abuse," Vassilaros said. "Often, the information we gather can be used in court, but the overall purpose is to look at the well-being of the child."

She said Harmony House is an unbiased "neutral" participant in the proceedings, trying only to get to the truth of the allegations. After interviewing a child, she can determine whether the child needs other medical or psychological assistance and make appropriate referrals. The center provides specialized case tracking, to ensure that no child "falls through the cracks" of the process, as well as a number of community and professional education programs.

The facility also features a child-friendly waiting room, where other family members can enjoy games and toys while waiting for an interview to be completed.

Vassilaros said child victimization is not uncommon. In Ohio County each year, there are 300-400 referrals to Child Protective Services. That agency, in turn, involves law enforcement and Harmony House in appropriate cases. In just over a year of operation, Vassilaros said, Harmony House has served 127 children and 91 adults. Three criminal convictions have resulted and several more are pending.

She explained that the non-offending family members also may be considered victims of the abuser. Not all abusers are family members, she added, having dealt with cases where older children assaulted younger ones.

Harmony House is "funded through a lot of prayers," Vassilaros laughed, explaining that it has received some federal and private grants, but that the U.S. Congress recently cut the appropriation to some of the programs that have provided funding in the past. "We don't know what effect that will have on us. We need our community to step up and see what we're doing here."

She credited the Chambers Foundation, the Junior League, the Sands Trust Fund, area churches and local donors for helping Harmony House get established. "OVMC has been a godsend, providing this space for free," she said. Other community partners include the Badd Bonz Customz motorcycle shop, Ohio University Eastern and Belmont Technical College, which has provided child development interns.

"Our funding was shaky because we were new and we don't charge for our services. Now with some of the funding cut by the Congress, we're looking for people to help. We know our services are working, and we don't want to lose what we've achieved so far for the sake of the children."

Badd Bonz will sponsor a bike run this spring to help raise funds, and OUE students have helped with fund-raising and with parties for the children served by the agency.

"We have the space and the equipment we need, and we're doing the service. We just need operating funds to continue. We have to speak for the children," Vassilaros said.

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

Minister proposes inquiry into clerical child abuse

February 7, 2005 [Evening Echo News]

IRELAND - Justice Minister Michael McDowell is set to bring proposals before the Cabinet this month for a public inquiry into clerical child sex abuse in Dublin.

Reports this morning said the inquiry would focus on 59 priests who are believed to have abused children and how the Archdiocese of Dublin handled any complaints made against them.

The reports also said the inquiry would be the first set up under the Government's new plans to replace tribunals with fast-track commissions of investigation.

Much of the body's work will reportedly be carried out in private, but some parts could be held in public, including the questioning of senior clerics.

Posted by Nancy at 12:17 AM | Comments (0)

Courts 'add to child abuse ordeal'

February 7, 2005 [The Guardian} United Kingdom
By Clare Dyer, legal correspondent

Child victims of sex abuse are traumatised all over again by the court system, according to a study of child witnesses published today.

Children giving evidence in court are routinely accused of lying and suffer distress, including breaking down in tears, while those enduring the long wait for their cases to come to court resort to self-harm, suicide attempts, bedwetting and truancy.

The NSPCC, which commissioned the research with Victim Support, is launching a campaign today to raise £3.2m to help child witnesses through the trauma of giving evidence.

The television personality Noel Edmonds, chairman of the Caring for Children in Court Appeal, said: "It cannot be right in a modern society that children who have suffered so much are treated in this way. We are failing our children if courts don't make the best possible attempts to hear their evidence."

Joyce Plotnikoff and Richard Woolfson interviewed 50 children and young people between seven and 17 who gave evidence in court, 32 in sex offence cases. The children felt intimidated in court and some said appearing as a witness had been as traumatic as the original abuse.

Half did not understand the words or phrases being used in court, just under half said they had been accused of lying, and more than half said they had been very upset, distressed or angry. A fifth of those said they had cried, felt sick or sweated.

One child said: "The defence wasn't nice. He was horrible. He said I was a liar. No one warned me beforehand that he'd say that. I don't feel I got to say everything I wanted to."

The parent of a 14-year-old witness told the researchers the case was not about getting to the truth but about skills, money and technique.

Mr Edmonds said: "This new research is as explosive as it is depressing. Children said they were shouted at, accused of lying, and were confused and upset by the long words used by lawyers, often when they were the victims of serious crimes."

The NSPCC also said children were having to wait unacceptably long periods of time before the cases reached court - on average almost a year - despite longstanding government policy to give priority to child abuse cases.

The charity is calling for more pre-trial support, lawyers and judges to ensure that children understand what they are being asked, an end to aggressive questioning, and monitoring of delays.

The NSPCC lawyer Barbara Esam said: "Suffering child abuse and then having to speak publicly about the experience is an ordeal for a young witness. The NSPCC believes all children must receive pre-trial support to reduce their trauma and help them give the best possible evidence."

The charity is fundraising to ensure its young witness services, which help children and their families with giving evidence, can continue.

Posted by Nancy at 12:09 AM | Comments (0)

Jailed for huge child porn hoard

February 7, 2005

A paedophile who hoarded Britain's biggest collection of child abuse images has been jailed for two-and-a-half years

Father-of-five John Harrison had more than a million images of children being abused.

The National Hi-Tech Crime Unit say it is the biggest personal collection of child porn ever seized in Britain.

They included sickening photos of babies being sexually tortured and raped by adults.

But Harrison, 53, escaped a much heavier sentence because he was charged under an old law so the maximum sentence he could receive was just three years.

Passing sentence at Minshull Street Crown Court in Manchester, Judge John Burke QC told Harrison he would have liked to have given him 10 years - the maximum sentence under the new law.

Harrison, from Manchester, has had his full address protected by the court for fear of reprisal by vigilantes.

He was put on the sex offenders' register for life, disqualified from working with children for life and banned from using the internet for life.

Unemployed Harrison, who repaired computers as a hobby, was arrested in October 2003 as part of Operation Twins, a global investigation of an organised paedophile group - The Shadowz Brotherhood.

Harrison pleaded guilty to 32 specimen counts of making an indecent image and to conspiracy to distribute indecent images through his role as an administrator of the bulletin board. The offences were committed between 1998 and 2003. But because his earliest offence pre-dated new sex abuse laws aimed to protect children, he was prosecuted under the old Protection of Children Act 1978, where the maximum sentence is three years. The new Sexual Offences Act 2000 carries a maximum sentence of 10 years.

Posted by Nancy at 12:02 AM | Comments (0)

Cumberland Co. is trying to prevent child abuse

February 7, 2005 [News 14 Carolina Staff]

Cumberland County is taking an active step towards preventing child abuse.

The county's Board of Social Services will form a group to study ways to protect kids at risk for deadly abuse.

It will look into how military abuse statistics compare with similar communities nationwide.

The group's first meeting will be next month.

The N.C. Child Advocacy Institute reported in September, children from Cumberland County, died of homicides at a rate of 4.6 per 100,000 compared with the statewide average of 2.2.

The rate is higher for military families five per 100,000

Posted by Nancy at 12:00 AM | Comments (0)

February 06, 2005

Paedophiles must face jail sentences, police chiefs urge

February 6, 2005 [The Scotsman News] By John Innes

SCOTLAND’S leading police officers believe child sex offenders should face mandatory jail sentences, it emerged yesterday.

The Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (ACPOS) is concerned that a number of paedophiles have been dealt with too leniently by the courts.

Bob Ovens, ACPOS spokesman on child protection, said it was time for a tougher approach to be adopted.

Mr Ovens, who is Deputy Chief Constable of Dumfries and Galloway Police, said in an interview with Scotland on Sunday: "Our position on this is quite clear.

"Where any individual is undertaking paedophile activity, and we include downloading child porn, grooming children on the internet or by any other means, right up to the sexual abuse of children, that is a serious offence.

"We have a duty to protect the most vulnerable people in society and send a clear message to those who ruin children’s lives and destroy their innocence that they will be punished severely," he added.

"It seems clear that the only sentence that achieves the dual purpose is a custodial sentence, combined with registration as a sex offender and some programme of rehabilitation."

Tina Woolnough, of the pressure group Parents in Partnership, said a radical overhaul of the current method of dealing with paedophiles was required.

"The system needs to be a lot more robust, and simply ordering community service for crimes such as these is unacceptable," she insisted.

However the SNP’s justice spokesman, Kenny MacAskill, gave a cautious reaction to the idea. "I would be very wary of mandatory sentencing," he said.

"It should always be left to the judiciary to impose a firm prison sentence where necessary, but alternatives where appropriate."

The Scottish Executive said the Protection of Children and Prevention of Sexual Offences (Scotland) Bill was currently going through parliament but declined to comment in detail on Mr Ovens’ remarks.

An Executive spokeswoman said: "Protection of children is a priority.

"The bill provides an extra tool for dealing with those who take advantage of children.

"We believe the bill forms the right package and strikes the correct balance for the justice committee to take forward and debate."

Posted by Nancy at 06:33 PM | Comments (0)

Scotland seeks tougher child sex laws

February 6, 2005 [United Press International]

[World News]: GLASGOW, Scotland - Police in Scotland want sex offenders to get automatic jail sentences, warning that putting pedophiles behind bars is the only way to stop them.

The Association of Chief Police Officers Scotland said police, prosecutors, judges and politicians must do more to recognize the damage pedophiles do, all too often because such offenders are not jailed, the Scotsman.com reported Sunday.

The law enforcement officers are demanding mandatory jail time for anyone who downloads child pornography or grooms a youngster over the Internet, including first-time offenders.

"Every image on a computer screen represents a real child suffering real abuse," said Bob Ovens, an association spokesman. "Everyone who searches for that material ensures that more children will suffer more sexual abuse, so they have to take responsibility."

Posted by Nancy at 06:20 PM | Comments (0)

Teacher indicted on new sex abuse charges

February 6, 2005 [Associated Press]

SANTA FE (AP) - A former elementary school teacher already charged with molesting two students has been indicted on additional charges involving two more boys.

A Santa Fe grand jury indicted 31-year-old Ernest Dominguez of Tucumcari on 22 counts of child molestation and related charges Thursday.

The new indictment alleges that Dominguez abused two children under the age of 13 between August 2001 and August 2002.

Dominguez is under house arrest in Tucumcari while he awaits trial.

The initial indictment contained 30 counts of criminal contact of a minor stemming from alleged abuse of two other boys under the age of 13 between May 2002 and November 2002.

Deputy District Attorney Barbara Romo said all four were in Dominguez’s class at the same time. Dominguez taught fifth grade during his first year at Salazar Elementary School in Santa Fe and then moved to the sixth grade.

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

Illness holds up Jackson's trial

Jury selection in the Michael Jackson child abuse trial has been halted after a member of the star's legal team was hit by family illness.

February 6, 2005 [BBC News}

Selection will be postponed until at least Thursday due to the grave illness of his lead lawyer's sister.

The case had been due to resume on Monday, with detailed questioning of 250 would-be jurors.

Mr Jackson denies plying a boy with alcohol and molesting him. The trial could last up to six months.

Legal motions

A spokesman for the Santa Maria courthouse said the serious nature of Thomas Mesereau's sister's illness has delayed the jury selection process until at least Thursday.

He did not rule out the possibility that the process of selecting the final 12 jurors and eight stand-by jurors could be postponed into next week.

Though Mr Mesereau and Mr Jackson, 46, will be absent from court on Monday, Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville is expected to briefly take the bench to consider legal motions by several news organisations.

Prospective jurors were also ordered to report to the courthouse for processing, but will then go home until Thursday morning at the earliest.

Last week Judge Melville cut short the first phase of jury selection after quickly finding 250 people who said they were willing and able to sit on a long jury trial.

Mr Jackson is facing four charges of lewd acts involving a minor, one count involving an attempted lewd act upon a child and four counts of administering alcohol.

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

Home developer contends sex offender stopped sales

February 6, 2005 [Associated Press]

SPRINGDALE, Ark. · A developer who says sales in a subdivision stopped after a sex offender and his wife bought a home has sued the couple and the real estate company that arranged the purchase.

NGI Rental filed the $2 million lawsuit Friday against Randall Dee Collins and his wife, as well as the real estate company that arranged their new home purchase.

Randall Collins, 39, was convicted of molesting young girls and is listed on the Arkansas Crime Information Center Web site.

According to the lawsuit, his wife hired a real estate company to sell her old home, saying she had married a sex offender and that her home was too close to a school.

A day after the couple bought a home in a new subdivision, the police department distributed fliers detailing Collins' case.

The lawsuit claims residents indicated they would move if Collins did not leave the neighborhood, and that sales came to a standstill because the developer was required to tell potential buyers about Collins.

The lawsuit also alleged Collins called the developer and offered to move for $250,000, "or he would stay there and kill their subdivision."

A message left on a phone listed to a Randall Collins was not immediately returned Saturday.

Springdale is about 180 miles northwest of Little Rock.

Posted by Nancy at 04:35 AM | Comments (0)

February 05, 2005

Fla. Couple Accused of Child Abuse Caught

February 5, 2005 [Associated Press]
By Mike Branom

INVERNESS, Fla. (AP) - A Florida couple have been captured in Utah after being accused of starving five adopted children and yanking some of their toenails out with pliers, officials said Friday.

John and Linda Dollar were picked up by two deputies around 7:30 p.m. EST south of Blanding in southeastern Utah, according to the San Juan County (Utah) Sheriff's Department. They were being held in county jail on Florida warrants of felony aggravated child abuse.

The couple were easily tracked because they continued using their cell phones in Utah, Citrus County sheriff's Capt. Jim Cernich said.

The Dollar family included seven adopted children between the ages of 12 and 17. Five of the children have told investigators they were tortured by the couple, subjected to electric shocks, beatings with hammers and having their toenails yanked out with pliers.

Deputies who raided their central Florida home Friday found an electric cattle prod, sticks, belts and a vise that were allegedly used in the torture, Cernich said. Authorities said the abused five had physical injuries supporting their claims and were so severely malnourished that they weighed no more than elementary school children.

"They looked like the photos that we've seen of Auschwitz," said Citrus sheriff's spokeswoman Gail Tierney, describing 14-year-old twins, one weighing 36 pounds, the other 38 pounds.

In the past two years, the Dollars have moved their family to at least three different homes in the Tampa area after living in Tennessee, secluding themselves behind fences and in piney groves, keeping a low-profile. The children were homeschooled and rarely played with others on the block or enjoyed the family's pool.

"Who has seven kids and the kids never go out and play?" asked Dawn Crescimone, who lived near the family in suburban Tampa two years ago.

If the allegations are true, Linda Dollar may have been acting on an abusive past. She wrote in a Department of Children & Families application in 1995 that she left home at age 16 because of her alcoholic father, who was "verbally and physically (not sexually) abusive." She also wrote that her first marriage ended because of "abuse." She gave no other details.

The comments were included in 164 pages of documents from when the Dollars applied to become foster parents in 1995. The department released them Friday.

The case has puzzled neighbors and the allegations of torture against the Dollars has drawn outrage from state officials.

"I hope they find them and I hope that they put them away for a long, long time," Gov. Jeb Bush told reporters Friday following an appearance in Hialeah. "It's disgusting."

The family had lived in Beverly Hills, about 85 miles north of Tampa, since August. John Dollar, 58, is a commercial real estate appraiser and his 51-year-old wife taught the children at home. The Dollars' large, single-story grey stucco home is surrounded by a thick pine forest on three sides. They bought the 3,800-square-foot home with a pool, spa and a three-car garage in July for $275,000.

"This is an area that you just wouldn't expect something like this to happen. You just don't hear of things like this here," said Nancy Reyes, 64, who lives in the exclusive subdivision called Ridge Estates.

DCF began investigating the couple when a 16-year-old boy living in their home was rushed to the hospital on Jan. 21 with severe injuries after one of the other children called for an ambulance. The family included three girls, ages 12, 13 and 17; three 14-year-old boys, two of them twins, and the 16-year-old boy.

The five told of being forced to sleep in a closet in the Dollars' bedroom because the couple accused them of stealing food and misbehaving, Tierney said.

The other two children were favored by the Dollars and were physically uninjured, Tierney said. All seven are in the custody of the Department of Children & Families.

"They are safe and they are doing as well as can be expected given the circumstances," said DCF spokesman Bill D'Aiuto.

Tennessee Department of Children's Services officials said Friday they hadn't investigated the Dollars while they lived in this state.

The children are not the Dollars' biological children, Florida officials said, declining to explain the nature of their relationship, citing the privacy concerns.

Bush said the couple adopted the children in the 1990s. DCF officials said the adoption records were sealed, but there were no other prior abuse reports involving the family in Florida.

DCF officials said the Dollars had been licensed as foster parents in Hillsborough County from March 1995 to October 1995. Documents show the family was no longer in Florida's foster care system when they moved out of the state.

The nomadic family has shuffled between Tennessee and Florida in recent years, records show.

Crescimone, who was a neighbor of the Dollars when they lived in Lithia, said the family had moved two years ago and had only stayed at the house for a few months. The children never came outside, and when the family left without posting a "For Sale" sign, it added to the mystery.

"They never used the pool. They never came out and played. I also had a funny feeling that it just wasn't something right," Crescimone said.

In Delrico, where the Dollars lived before moving to Beverly Hills, 77-year-old Delmar Rhoden said the family put up a tall white plastic fence surrounding the backyard after they moved in. His wife frequently chatted with Mrs. Dollar but they rarely saw the children.

"They seemed like normal people. My wife talked to her quite a bit. The kids didn't come out of the house hardly at all," Rhoden said, describing the children as very well-mannered.

When they moved to Beverly Hills, they stayed in a quiet subdivision where the nearest neighbor's home is more than a 100 yards away and a sign proclaimed it a "Crime Free Neighborhood."

A woman who lived nearby, who declined to give her name, said the family first appeared at the house in August but six U-Haul trucks dropped off belongings over a period of two months.

Posted by Nancy at 05:52 PM | Comments (0)

Dupree man convicted on sexual abuse charge

February 5, 2005 [Rapid City Journal]

RAPID CITY - A Dupree man has been convicted of two counts of aggravated sexual abuse in connection with a rape in Pine Ridge last July.

A federal jury found Marquette Condon, 25, guilty after a trial before U.S. District Judge Richard Battey. The charges related to the forcible rape of a 17-year-old girl, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Condon could receive up to life in prison and a $250,000 fine. No sentencing date has been set.

Posted by Nancy at 05:46 PM | Comments (0)

57 Child Abuse Deaths Reported In Indiana During Last Fiscal Year

February 5, 2005 Indiananapolis [Associated Press

A decadelong trend of Indiana averaging at least one child abuse or neglect death each week continued last year.

Director James Payne of the new state Department of Child Services says 57 children died of abuse or neglect in Indiana during the state fiscal year that ended last June 30th.

The 57 deaths are the most since 61 children died in fiscal 2002.

James Payne, director of the state Department of Child Services, told The Indianapolis Star that reducing the deaths is one of the goals of his new agency.

The state report comes as Governor Mitch Daniels is calling for an overhaul of the state's child protection services.

Posted by Nancy at 05:22 PM | Comments (0)

February 04, 2005

Man gets 20 to life in sex abuse case

February 4, 2005 [Times-News writer] By Rebecca Meany

TWIN FALLS -- For a crime that prosecutors described as an "obscene abuse," a 5th District Judge ordered a 20-year-old man Thursday to serve 20 years to life in prison for sodomizing an infant.

Adam Dean Jackman, of Filer, pleaded guilty on Nov. 8 to one felony count of lewd and lascivious conduct with a minor in connection with the Dec. 3, 2003, sexual abuse of a 17-month-old boy.

At his sentencing hearing in front of Judge Richard Bevan, Jackman appeared dressed in orange jail attire, his hands and feet shackled.

As the defendant stood to address the victim's family, court personnel unfastened his handcuffs so he could use sign language to communicate with the baby's mother, who he was dating at the time of the incident. He also spoke out loud:

"I want to start by telling you and your whole family how sorry I am for what happened," Jackman said. "I know there's no way I can fix what happened."

He stopped to fight back tears, then continued:

"I know there's nobody to blame but myself," he said. "I wish every day I could take it back. More than anything, I want (the baby) to know I'm sorry for what happened. He did nothing to deserve what I did. None of you did. I wish there was some way I could go back and take back the pain from the whole family."

Still choked with emotion, Jackman turned to the judge.

"I know there's no excuse at all for anything that I did," Jackman said. "I hope that someday I will make amends somehow. I don't know how or if that's possible. I won't try to minimize this whatsoever. This is the worst thing you could ever do to anybody."

Jackman's public defender, Marilyn Paul, asked the judge for a 5- to 7-year sentence, saying her client has no significant adult criminal record.

"There is nothing to show ... any type of pattern of sexual victimization of others," she said.

Paul told the court Jackman is extremely remorseful and wants to get treatment for his methamphetamine habit.

Grant Loebs, Twin Falls County prosecuting attorney, asked the judge to impose the maximum penalty of life in prison.

"The state cannot see any reason why the court would ever feel safe allowing him to be released from prison," he said. "It's an unspeakable crime to a defenseless child. He needs to have somebody watching him -- probation and parole officers -- making sure that when he snaps, he can be caught quickly. Hopefully, he won't snap, but with Larry Gold's assessment, he likely will."

Lawrence Gold, who conducted a psycho-sexual evaluation of Jackman, told the court he believes Jackman has borderline personality disorder, among other issues.

"It's one of the most painful disorders to have in your life," Gold said. "The primary characteristic is a frantic effort to avoid real or imagined abandonment."

Gold said Jackman acted out in anger when the baby's mother went to the library with the baby's father.

Gold also said Jackman exhibited a level of callousness brought on by lifelong suffering from psychological disorders, as well as his own sexual abuse as a child.

"Adam's collapse of caring or his ability to relate to this child as a baby ... has its roots in both Adam's abuse, the way he was brought up and the methamphetamine that just destroys his conscience."

Jackman claimed to have been up for three days on methamphetamine when the sexual assault occurred.

Jackman has continuously denied that he was responsible for ligature -- or strangulation -- marks on the infant.

But Loebs asked Jackman how he held the baby down while "assaulting" him.

Jackman made no reply.

Loebs asked Gold about the possibility for rehabilitation for a person who suffers from myriad disorders.

Gold responded that the potential was "very low."

Loebs said he wished Idaho had a hospital for the criminally insane so Jackman could get the appropriate treatment while being kept from society. Gold said he would be willing to give the defendant treatment if the court so ordered.

Before issuing his decision, Judge Bevan said that lewd conduct with a minor is one of the most serious crimes that can come before the court.

"This was a horrendously violent event," Bevan told Jackman. "There's clearly undue risk you'll commit another crime of a significant nature."

The judge said a fixed life sentence would be "overly harsh, with no hope for what future may come."

In 20 years, minus 427 days for time served, Jackman will come before the state parole board, which will decide if he's ready to be released.

Jackman will have to register as a sex offender in any county in which he lives, and he must pay a $5,000 fine in addition to counseling and medical bills for the victim.

Filer police took Jackman into custody on Dec. 4, 2003, but he escaped, handcuffed, from the back of a patrol car. He allegedly stole a car and drove to his father's house in Horseshoe Bend, where authorities arrested him the next day.

As part of a plea agreement, prosecutors dropped injury to child and grand theft charges in exchange for Jackman's guilty plea to the lewd conduct charge.

Times-News writer Rebecca Meany can be reached at 735-3259

Posted by Nancy at 06:24 PM | Comments (0)

Parents Charged In 'Worst Case Of Abuse Ever Seen'

February 4, 2005 [Local - KPRC Click2Houston.com]

In what Houston police call "the worst case of abuse ever seen," a young mother and father were charged with the alleged sexual abuse of their 6-month-old daughter, Local 2 reported Friday.

Police filed a serious bodily injury to a child charge against the baby's parents. However, if the child dies, the charges could be upgraded to capital murder.

The parents were taken in for questioning Wednesday after Texas Children's Hospital workers notified police that their daughter showed signs of abuse and sexual assault.

Investigators said the infant remains in critical condition at the hospital with multiple internal and external injuries throughout her body.

"This is the worst case of abuse that I've personally seen," Houston Police Department Sgt. Randy Upton said. "She had some skull fractures, brain contusions, hemorrhaging, liver injuries, lung and kidney problems, signs of sexual abuse, as well as a severe laceration across her tongue."

Doctors found more injuries upon closer examination.

"In addition to all the internal injuries she had, she also had two broken legs and a broken arm and a broken vertebrae," said Estella Olquin, with Child Protective Services.

The couple, who lives in the 1000 block of Gargan in north Houston, originally took their daughter to Doctor's Hospital Parkway and told medical workers the child was experiencing congestion problems. Hospital officials transferred the infant to Texas Children's Hospital, where the girl was placed in the intensive care unit barely alive.

Police said the baby was breathing on her own Friday but is reportedly experiencing internal bleeding.

Authorities are now investigating injuries discovered in the couple's older child, a 15-month-old daughter.

"The second child had an injury that was healing, a fractured skull, as well as some fractured ribs," Upton said.

Police said the couple's oldest daughter has been placed in a foster home.

Friday afternoon during a placement hearing, a judge ruled that both the baby and her sister would remain in the custody of Child Protective Services pending further investigation.

The judge ordered that family members have no contact with the children.

"We're going to want to know how is it that these family members that are parents around these children didn't know that they were so hurt," Olquin said.

The parents were placed behind bars Friday without bond. If convicted of injury to a child, each faces up to 99 years in prison.

The father was previously charged with injury to a child in connection with alleged abuse against the 15-month-old daughter; however, the case was dismissed in August 2004. The mother has no criminal history.

Both girls were returned to the parents in October after the charges were dropped. They lived with their grandparents during the investigation.

Posted by Nancy at 05:38 PM | Comments (0)

Child-abuse audit faults agency

February 4, 2005 [Gannett State Bureau]
By Jonathan Tamari

A state agency responsible for investigating thousands of allegations of child abuse and neglect has a massive backlog and is too slow in completing its work, according to an audit by the state Office of the Child Advocate.

The report studied the Institutional Abuse Investigation Unit in the Department of Human Services. The unit examines alleged child abuse in out-of-home settings such as foster homes, schools or other institutions.

"This is just not good enough for our children. No way," said Child Advocate Kevin M. Ryan. "IAIU is the safety net for children who have been removed from their families."

The report also said the agency's professional judgment improved only slightly after a previous audit and found particular problems in its South Jersey offices. Investigators often failed to do proper background checks, and the state sometimes placed children in

settings with a history of abuse, the audit found.

As of Nov. 30, the IAIU had 956 uncompleted investigations that were past due. The number of overdue cases rose 445 percent from Oct. 1, 2003 to the end of November, the report said.

Human Services Commissioner James M. Davy vowed to correct the problems found in the report. He said the state is beginning its five-year child-welfare-reform plan and that improvements for the IAIU were on the way before the audit.

"This unit is critical to our mission of protecting children, and we must get better," Davy said in a statement.

While the Division of Youth and Family Services examines alleged abuses of children within their own homes, IAIU performs a similar task in other settings. IAIU had 2,817 referrals in 2003, the most recent year for which that data is available.

The Child Advocate's office and readers from the Rutgers University Center for Children and Families reviewed 161 IAIU cases investigated between Nov. 1, 2003 and May 31. The study included 131 cases where investigators reached a conclusion.

The Department of Human Services has hired 14 new investigators for the unit and plans to add more with a goal of eliminating the backlog within eight months. Ryan wants faster results.

"This has got to be a priority," Ryan said.

Ryan cited the South Jersey region, which includes Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Cape May, Cumberland, Salem and Atlantic counties, as having particular problems. The region had the largest backlog and only found one case of "substantiated" abuse among those studied by auditors. That case was only substantiated after Ryan's office intervened to question an earlier finding.

Overall, auditors disagreed with IAIU findings in 21 of the 131 completed cases they reviewed.

In one such case, a man admitted to beating his foster child with a belt, but the unit did not substantiate claims of abuse.

Auditors agreed with IAIU findings in 102 cases with a conclusion, or 78 percent. Ryan said this was a "modest" improvement over a 75 percent rate found in a study two years ago.

IAIU investigators failed to do background checks for more than half of the alleged abusers, the report said. Four of the alleged perpetrators who were checked had a prior case of substantiated abuse, leading to questions about communications between investigators and DYFS, which is responsible for placing children in safe settings, Ryan said.

There were, however, some high points. The report found a case in which enterprising investigators helped thwart a cover-up. Another investigator found witnesses that even police had missed.

Ryan said more training and supervision is needed for investigators whose work falls short.

Ryan said his office will begin another audit this summer. DHS is required to formally respond to the report within 30 days.

Posted by Nancy at 05:12 PM | Comments (0)

February 03, 2005

Fla. Couple Sought on Child Abuse Charges

February 3, 2005 [Associated Press] By Vickie Chachere

TAMPA, Fla. - Five children were starved, shocked and hit with a hammer by a couple who disappeared after they were confronted by authorities, officials said.

John Dollar, 58, and his wife Linda Dollar, 51, remained missing Friday, four days after they skipped a hearing with the Department of Children & Families, the Citrus County Sheriff's Office said. The Dollars are wanted on felony charges of aggravated child abuse.

The five children, along with two others who did not appear to have been abused, were removed from the Dollars' home in Beverly Hills after one of the children called an ambulance for a 16-year-old boy who weighed less than 60 pounds and had suspicious injuries on his head and neck. The doctors alerted authorities.

The children, who ranged in age from 12 to 17, told officials that the Dollars struck them with a hammer, administered electric shocks and used pliers to pull off their toenails, sheriff's spokeswoman Gail Tierney said. The children showed signs of injury, including missing toenails, Tierney said.

Twin 14-year-old brothers were severely malnourished, weighing 36 and 38 pounds each, about 80 pounds below the normal weights for their age, police said.

Five of the children also told deputies they were forced to sleep in a locked walk-in closet because the Dollars accused them of stealing food and misbehaving, the sheriff's office said.

Officials declined to describe the relationship between the Dollars and the children, citing privacy concerns. The Dollars were not the children's biological or foster parents, child welfare department spokesman Bill Daiuto said.

The Dollars had moved with the children in August from Tennessee to the tidy home in a wooded neighborhood about 70 miles north of Tampa.

The children did not attend school and no other adults had regular contact with them, preventing authorities from intervening sooner, Tierney said.

"My impression was that they were basically prisoners in this home," Tierney said.

Posted by Nancy at 06:01 PM | Comments (0)

February 02, 2005

PSU professor charged with 25 counts of child sexual abuse

February 2, 2005 [Associated Press]

PHILADELPHIA - A Penn State professor emeritus who is regarded as an expert on early-childhood education and autism is facing more than 25 charges of child sexual abuse dating to the late 1970s.

John T. Neisworth, 67, is scheduled to stand trial in Maryland on April 19.

The charges have no connection to Neisworth's work for Penn State. The alleged victim, an Arizona resident, contends that he was repeatedly abused for several years by Neisworth and two other men in and near his then-hometown of Bear, Del., starting when he was 12 years old.

The alleged victim, whose name is being withheld because of the nature of the charges, said he had suppressed the memories until five years ago.

The other men facing charges are Karl Goeke, 58, of Los Angeles, and David A. Smith, 64, of Pittsburgh. Smith and Neisworth already appeared in court in Cecil County, Md., and were released on unsecured bond and Goeke soon will be extradited to Cecil County, police said.

The alleged victim said that Goeke lived near the his family, and he met Neisworth and Smith through Goeke.

The alleged victim said he contacted authorities in Maryland, where he contends he visited often with Neisworth, because the statute of limitations had expired in Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

In 2001, he filed a civil suit against Neisworth and Goeke in State Superior Court in Camden County, N.J. That case was settled in 2002, and the alleged victim said he received a cash settlement, but the terms are not public.

Neisworth retired from his full-time professorship in 2002, but he continues to teach a distance-education course, university officials said. Neither Neisworth nor his lawyer could be reached for comment.

Neisworth is the author of at least a dozen books on early-childhood education and autism.

"He has an impeccable record as a scholar, and he's been a fine member of the faculty here," said David H. Monk, dean of the university's College of Education. Penn State is not investigating Neisworth's activities at the university, Monk said.

Posted by Nancy at 05:58 PM | Comments (0)

Miami archdiocese in 5.2 million dollar settlement over child sex abuse

February 2, 2005 [AFP]

The Miami archdiocese of the Roman Catholic church paid out 5.2 million dollars in settlements of child sex abuse cases in 2004, according to its annual report presented by Archbishop John Favalora.

Since it introduced legal insurance coverage in 1966, the Miami archdiocese has paid out 17.6 million dollars in settlements and legal counsel for priests, nuns and lay employees, the report said.

The November 2002 bishops' conference held in Dallas, Texas set out rules to follow in cases of priests involved in sex abuse crimes against children in the United States.

In 2003 and 2004, 16 new lawsuits were brought against the church, bringing the total since 1966 to 80 claims, plus 20 against law employees and six against religious orders.

"The settlement of a claim by the Archdiocese does not mean that the accused is guilty," Favalora states in last month's report.

"Civil proceedings never resolve the question of the guilt or innocence of the accused. But there does come a point when the legal costs of defending the lawsuits exceed the financial demands of the accusers."

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

February 01, 2005

Awareness campaign for prevention of child abuse set

January 31, 2005 [Sun Star]

Phillippines - THE Regional Council for the Welfare of Children (RSCWC) is leading national agencies and non-government sectors in the observance of the National Awareness for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Week from February 6 to 12.

The RSCWC, with the Department of Social welfare and Development (DSWD) serving as secretariat, is encouraging government agencies to hang streamers, offer the prepared Prayer for Children, and discuss the core messages of the observance during their flag ceremonies or on any relevant activity for the week.

The awareness campaign calls on appropriate sectors to educate every family and every child on sex and sexuality as well as on what to do when the child is in danger of being sexually abused.

The bigger challenge, according to the RSCWC, is in empowering the community to perform its duty as "watch dog" for each child within their neighborhood or their street, for the community to be vigilant enough to identify potential situations that may pose threat and danger to the child.

Local governments, are likewise challenged to act on cases of sexual abuse and exploitation among children, organize multi-sectoral groups to attend to the cases, allocate funds for preventive programs and assume a disposition of a real and fully child-friendly community.

Posted by Nancy at 06:39 PM | Comments (0)

Tas group pleads for child sex abuse inquiry

February 1, 2005

TASMANIA - There is a renewed call for a royal commission into child sexual abuse in Tasmania.

The group Survivors Investigating Child Sexual Abuse says it is horrified by a case it has uncovered where a 15-year-old was placed with foster parents who were already being investigated for abuse.

The investigation stems from the ombudsman's recent inquiry into the abuse of children in care.

The foster parents allegedly abused a female in their care eight years ago.

A spokeswoman for the group, Denise Cripps, says she has been told by the Child Protection Agency that it is looking into the placement.

However, Ms Cripps says protocols obviously have not been followed.

She says it is evidence once again that supports a royal commission.

"We continue to call for a state inquiry into child sexual abuse...we would prefer of course a royal commission, an Australian royal commission, federal royal commission into child sexual abuse so that we are all following the same protocols, so that we all are aligned throughout the states and territories throughout Australia," she said.

Meanwhile, Greens justice spokesman Nick McKim says this case is symptomatic of the inadequate way the State Government has handled some aspects of child protection.

"Clearly the Government needs to investigate not only this particular matter, but it needs to cast its net a lot wider," he said.

"We need to know whether there are other people in the same situation who have been placed with carers who have been alleged to have abused children in the past."

Posted by Nancy at 06:09 PM | Comments (0)