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March 31, 2005

CSKT refers child abuse reports to state's 24-hour line

March 31, 2005 [Missoulian]
By COLIN McDONALD of the Missoulian

Montana - The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes is changing the way it receives reports of suspected child abuse and neglect.

The tribes' Department of Human Resources Development Social Services Program will now refer calls of abuse of tribal children to the state's 24-hour central intake number at 1-866-820-5437

The toll-free number currently serves other tribes and counties in Montana and is based in Helena.

Callers are asked to identify if the suspected abuse involves tribal children, so the report can be referred to Tribal Social Services.

Each call will automatically generate a report number so reports can be easily tracked and recorded. Those making the reports, however, can remain anonymous.

According to CSKT, the change will give the tribe's social service staff more time to work with families and will be a more efficient use of the staff's time.

Posted by Nancy at 12:01 AM | Comments (0)

March 30, 2005

Rendell Administration Designates April as Child Abuse Prevention Month; April 4 Breakfast to Focus on `Domestic Violence and the Connection to Child Abuse'

March 30, 2005
Press Release Source: Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare

HARRISBURG, Pa., March 30 /PRNewswire -- In recognition of April as Child Abuse Prevention Month in Pennsylvania, Department of Public Welfare Secretary Estelle B. Richman said that the best way to protect children from physical, mental and sexual abuse is to nurture and support them as they face the many challenges of life.

"Each year many children in the Commonwealth suffer from abuse and neglect, permanently disabling and psychologically affecting them," Secretary Richman said. "Child Abuse Prevention Month reminds us that it is imperative to nurture our children if we are to improve the quality of life in our society. Insuring the safety of children helps to insure the future for us all."

On April 4, Parents Anonymous of Pennsylvania will observe Child Abuse Prevention Month by holding its annual Blue Ribbon Breakfast at the Hilton Harrisburg and Towers. The breakfast will be held from 8:30 a.m. until 10 a.m. and is being co-sponsored by Pennsylvania Children's Trust Fund, Pennsylvania Children and Youth Administrators Association, Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence and DPW.

The theme of this year's breakfast is "Domestic Violence and the Connection to Child Abuse." The keynote speaker will be Sandra L. Bloom, M.D., psychiatrist and author of "Creating Sanctuary: Toward the Evolution of Sane Societies." Karen Maddocks, from Berks County, will speak on behalf of parents.

Parents Anonymous will also unveil a new brochure on parenting when domestic violence is an issue. Blue ribbon pins and blue ribbon car magnets stating: "Building Strong Family Ties," will also be distributed.

DPW, which oversees the Children's Trust Fund, is funding 13 new mini-grants intended to develop new and innovative child abuse and neglect prevention programs. Funding is specifically aimed at programs that focus on preventing abuse before it occurs. Grant recipients are listed below.

In Pennsylvania, more than 23,000 reports of suspected child abuse were made in 2004, with more than 4,000 of the reports substantiated. Last year, 44 children died as a result of abuse or neglect.

To report suspected child abuse, call ChildLine toll free, anytime, at 1-800-932-0313.

For more information on child abuse prevention visit http://www.dpw.state.pa.us, keyword Office of Children, Youth and Families.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The following is a list by county of the Children's Trust Fund mini-grant recipients. Each grantee is receiving the funds over a three-year grant period running through Oct. 31, 2007


Cumberland County
Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape
$150,000

Columbia County
Columbia County Commissioners
$87,500

Erie County
SafeNet - A Domestic Violence Safety Network
$96,922

Indiana County
ARIN Intermediate Unit #28
$112,954

McKean County
The Guidance Center
$150,000

Mifflin County
Mifflin County Children and Youth Services/Communities That Care
$150,000

Philadelphia County
Philadelphia Society for Services to Children
$150,000

Girls Inc. of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey
$150,000

Institute for Safe Families Inc.
$150,000

Joseph S. Peters Institute
$150,000

Somerset County
Tableland Services, Inc./Salisbury Area Family Center
$150,000

Washington County
Community Action Southwest
$150,000

Wyoming County
Wyoming County Human Services
$150,000

CONTACT: Schenley Kent, Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, +1-717-787-4592

Posted by Nancy at 08:27 PM | Comments (0)

Former boy scout official admits child porn charge

March 30, 2005 [Associated Press]

Fort Worth, Texas - former Boy Scouts of America official who ran a task force to protect children from sexual abuse yesterday admitted a child pornography charge.

Douglas Smith, 61, was accused of receiving internet images of children engaging in sex acts. He admitted possessing and distributing child pornography.
Smith, who lives in Colleyville, near Fort Worth, Texas, faces five to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 (£133,000). He will be sentenced on July 12.

Smith, who worked for the scouts for 39 years, was a national programme director and for two years had led its youth protection task force which worked to shield young people from sexual abuse. However, he did not work directly with children, officials said.

He was put on leave last month as soon as the organisation learned of the allegations, and he then retired.

Gregg Shields, national spokesman for the Boy Scouts, said the organisation was shocked and dismayed.
"This is the action of one individual. It certainly doesn't represent our values or mission," Shields said.
Law enforcement officials indicated the pictures did not show boys who were scouts, he added.

Posted by Nancy at 08:27 PM | Comments (0)

DHS has backlog of over 2,000 child abuse cases, documents show

March 30, 2005 [Associated Press]

JACKSON, MS - Mississippi's child protection agency has a backlog of 2,863 child abuse case and its caseworkers take an average of 76 hours to respond to abuse allegations, documents show.

The backlog was revealed in documents obtained by lawyers suing the Department of Human Services. The backlog numbers, however, represent children who are not in DHS custody and not directly involved in the suit.

The lawsuit alleges the state failed to protect children who depend on DHS and the Division of Family and Children's Services.

Betty Mallett, an attorney with McGlinchey Stafford PLLC representing DHS, said the federal court has already dismissed similar claims by New York-based Children's Rights, which sued DHS.

"This is just another attempt by (Children's Rights) to embarrass the Mississippi Department of Human Services," she said in a written statement. "We believe that (Children's Rights) is just trying to intimidate the state of Mississippi, especially during this legislative session."

While similar data for other states is not readily available, Eric Thompson, an attorney with Children's Rights, said the numbers from Mississippi are unusually high.

"We've seen in other dysfunctional systems we have sued because they were not protecting children, we have seen backlogs in the hundreds, but I don't know of any other system where we're talking thousands," he said. "This has been a hidden crisis."

One document shows the number of investigations open for more than 30 days as of Jan. 15.

Of those 2,863 investigations, the region including Chickasaw, Clay, Itawamba and other counties had 79. The region including Covington, Forrest, George and six other counties had 817, while the region with Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties had 823.

Thompson said DHS' policy says caseworkers need to determine whether abuse or neglect has occurred within 15 days.

Another DHS document shows the number of investigations opened in each of the department's nine regions, along with the percentage of cases in which a caseworker responded within 24 hours.

While 87 percent of the investigations had a response within 24 hours in the region including Chickasaw, Clay, Itawamba, Lee and six other counties, that number dropped to 60.2 percent for the region including Hinds and Warren counties.

For the region including Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties, the number was 66 percent.

Caseworkers in that region also take about 270 hours - or nearly seven days - before they make an initial response, contributing to a statewide average of 76 hours, documents show.

Posted by Nancy at 08:24 PM | Comments (0)

Governor signs measure for life sentence for child abuse deaths

March 30, 2005 [Associated Press]

LAS CRUCES, N.M. Governor Richardson has signed into law a measure that requires a life sentence for child abuse resulting in death.

The governor signed the measure in Las Cruces.

It was sponsored by Dona Ana County Democratic Senator Mary Jane Garcia.

Richardson says the new law sends the message that it's unacceptable to harm a child. And he says those who kill a child in New Mexico will go to prison for life.

Posted by Nancy at 08:20 PM | Comments (0)

March 29, 2005

Ex-Boy Scouts Official Faces Porn Charges

March 29, 2005 [Associated Press]
By LISA FALKENBERG

DALLAS - A longtime Boy Scouts of America official who directed a national task force to protect children from sexual abuse has been charged with possession and distribution of child pornography.

Douglas Sovereign Smith Jr., 61, was accused of receiving images over the Internet in February of children engaging in oral sex, intercourse and other sexually explicit conduct. The charges were filed by federal prosecutors March 21.

"We're shocked and dismayed to learn of this," said Gregg Shields, national spokesman for the Boy Scouts, based in the Dallas suburb of Irving. "Smith was employed by the Boy Scouts for 39 years and we had no indication of prior criminal activity."

Smith was a national program director and staff adviser of the Boy Scout's renowned Youth Protection Task Force. Shields said Smith took over the task force a couple of years ago when another employee retired. Smith managed the distribution of literature, video tapes, a Web site and other resources that teach children and adults at schools, churches and Boy Scout troops how to detect and prevent child abuse.

Law enforcement officials indicated the pictures did not show boys who were with the Boy Scouts organization, Shields said.

Smith's job did not involve working directly with children, Shields said. Smith was put on leave immediately after the Boy Scouts officials learned of charges, then chose to retire, he said.

Smith, reached Tuesday at his home in Colleyville, near Fort Worth, referred all questions to his attorney, Jack Strickland, who said: "He's not taking this well. I've got to tell you, this is a good man and I would hate to see the entirety of his life and the good things he's done defined by one incident."

He was expected to appear in federal court Wednesday.

"This is the first time ever we recall anything like this being charged against a Boy Scouts employee," Shields said. "We're proud of our dedicated and hardworking people, but never heard of anything like this."

Smith's indictment was the result of a joint investigation between German and U.S. authorities to look into child porn distributed over the Internet.

Dean Boyd, a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the investigative arm of the Homeland Security Department, declined to talk specifically about Smith's case, but said it is the kind that authorities take special care to investigate.

Posted by Nancy at 09:03 PM | Comments (0)

Seattle Area Priest resigns from Church to seek Healing from Abuse He Suffered as a Child

March 26, 2005

A priest in Bothell, Washington has resigned, because of abuse that he suffered as a child in the Yakima diocese. The Rev. Lawrence Minder had earlier taken a leave of absence, but has now resigned. He has been in inpatient treatment at a trauma center in Arizona.

Minder has said that he intends to write about the abuse that he suffered as a teen in the Yakima diocese 30 years ago.

To read more visit this article at the Seattle Times

Summary of this news article has been written with permission from the Seattle Times

Posted by Nancy at 08:23 PM | Comments (0)

Jacko 'abuse' airing

March 29, 2005 [AFP]
From correspondents in Santa Maria, California

THE judge in Michael Jackson's child sex trial today dealt a major blow to the defence by allowing prosecutors to tell jurors of previous cases of alleged abuse by the star.

Judge Rodney Melville granted a hotly fought prosecution motion to tell jurors of prior accusations against Jackson that never made it to court.
"The decision I have reached is: I will now admit the testimony with regard to the sexual offences and the alleged pattern of grooming," he said.

Prosecutors had asked to be allowed to tell of seven prior allegations of child sex abuse against Jackson in order to show jurors an alleged pattern of child molestation.

But only one of the five alleged victims of prior abuse by the 46-year-old superstar will testify at the trial, with the other allegations to be recounted by other witnesses, the court in California was told.

Two of the five cases that jurors will be told about were resolved in out-of-court settlements, but the judge barred prosecutors from telling jurors the amounts of the payments.

Jackson's camp had bitterly fought the effort to present potentially damaging testimony, saying such unproved allegations could poison jurors against the embattled superstar.

Legal analysts say the admission of such explosive testimony could deal a serious blow to the defence by lending credence to the accusations in the present case.

Posted by Nancy at 10:29 AM | Comments (0)

National Effort to Educate America in Wearing The Blue Awareness Ribbon of National Child Abuse Prevention Month

April marks the 22nd anniversary of National Child Abuse Prevention Month, a time dedicated to child abuse education, awareness and prevention activities. Observing National Child Abuse Prevention month, Love Our Children USA, (a national organization headquartered in New York whose mission is to break the cycle that victimizes children) kicks off their GET BLUE campaign – a national effort to educate and raise awareness for the Blue Ribbon and Child Abuse Prevention.

New York (PRWEB) March 29, 2005 -- As the "Blue Ribbon" is the symbol for child abuse prevention, Love Our Children USA urges every person across the country to GET BLUE. By wearing a Blue Ribbon pin or Love Our Children USA’s Break The Cycle Blue Ribbon Awareness Bracelet during April and throughout the year, we can educate families, children, neighbors, organizations and communities on how to prevent child abuse and neglect -- encourage community and individual involvement in recognizing and preventing child abuse and neglect – assist families in achieving healthy parenting practices through education and resources and empower individuals to report child victimization and intervene in situations where violence and neglect harm children.

Reports of child abuse nationwide have increased by 30-percent in the last 10-years. If the country thinks child abuse isn't a problem, they should think again. More than 3 million children are victims of child abuse each year and almost 1.8 million children are reported missing each year, many of whom are abducted from their homes and front yards. Those are only the ones that are reported. Child abuse has reached epidemic proportions.

We can no longer overlook America’s children who are at risk and peril every day … and at even greater risk in times of stress. “It is of critical importance that we educate the American public and raise a greater awareness to break the cycle that victimizes children – before it starts,” says Ross Ellis, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Love Our Children, USA.

Celebrities and the entertainment industry, as well as corporations have joined Love Our Children USA’s efforts to GET BLUE and break the cycle. Many already wear Blue Ribbon pins and Love Our Children USA’s Break The Cycle Blue Ribbon Awareness Bracelet which can be purchased through Love Our Children USA.

A child's voice is small, ignored and unheard. We must raise the volume so that everyone hears their message. Ellis said “Imagine if everyone in the country wore a Blue Ribbon -- if every community, business, school, faith organization, hospital and home displayed a Blue Ribbon -- we could make such an impact in raising awareness to break the cycle that breaks children's hearts ... their lives ... and their spirit.”

National Child Abuse Prevention Month is not only a timely opportunity to remind ourselves of our collective responsibility to protect America’s children and strengthen America’s families, but it is time to accelerate education and awareness of this very public epidemic. The country, our communities, concerned citizens, and even youth must work together to break the cycle.

Love Our Children USA is the leading national grassroots organization that honors, respects and protects children. As a voice for children, they celebrate them and the loving relationship we should have with them. Their mission is to break the cycle that victimizes children. They
work to enable child success by eliminating behaviors that keep children from reaching their potential. They promote positive changes in parenting and family attitudes, along with behaviors and prevention strategies through public education campaigns. Love Our Children USA works to empower and support children, teens, parents and families through information, resources, advocacy and online youth mentoring.

Visit the Love Our Children USA websites at
www.loveourchildrenusa.org and www.until-the-cycle-breaks.org

Contact Ross Ellis, 888.347.KIDS

Posted by Nancy at 10:05 AM | Comments (0)

March 28, 2005

Jackson Judge Allows Prior-Abuse Claims in Trial

March 28, 2005 [Reuters]
By Dan Whitcomb and Alexandria Sage

SANTA MARIA, Calif. (Reuters) - The judge in Michael Jackson's child-molestation trial said on Monday he would allow prosecutors to introduce evidence relating to five previous incidents of alleged abuse by the pop star, in a major defeat for his defense.

Under the ruling, jurors will be allowed to hear testimony about a 1993 case in which the singer paid some $23 million to settle a lawsuit brought by the family of a boy who accused him of sexual abuse.

Defense lawyers had strenuously objected to that testimony, arguing that prosecutors were "desperate" and that their case against Jackson had already fallen apart in court.

Jackson, 46, is accused in a 10-count indictment of plying a then-13-year-old boy with alcohol and molesting him while the youngster and his family were staying at the entertainer's Neverland Valley Ranch in early 2003.

Jackson was never charged in connection with the past accusations. However, prosecutors want to convince jurors that the self-proclaimed "King of Pop" has a pattern of behavior toward young boys -- evidence legal experts say could be devastating to his defense.

After about 90 minutes of sometimes-impassioned arguments on both sides, Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville sided with prosecutors. The issue was "of great importance in this case to both sides," he said.

"I'm going to permit testimony with regard to sexual offenses," Melville said.

The judge said he also would permit prosecutors to try to show that the 46-year-old entertainer had a history of "grooming" his alleged victims for abuse by lavishing time and attention on them in order to win their trust.

With jurors out of the courtroom, defense lawyers sought to block such testimony, arguing that prosecutors were trying to bring in a parade of witnesses with grudges against Jackson.

Attorney Tom Mesereau said that a grand jury never returned an indictment against Jackson in the 1993 case and that only one of the alleged prior victims has agreed to take the witness stand.

"You have what is in effect a very problematic case, and I submit the prosecution knows that," Mesereau said.

Jackson's accuser in the current case, along with the boy's brother and sister, had all "lied repeatedly," Mesereau said, adding that the inconsistencies in their testimony would worsen once the accuser's mother took the stand.
District Attorney Tom Sneddon shot back that Jackson's accuser had never wavered under cross-examination.

Mesereau, he said, had been "as abusive, as mean-spirited and obnoxious as you can be to a child witness, and I think it was a remarkable job this kid did. He was never once tripped up about the central fact of the case -- that he was molested."

Jackson, who faces more than 20 years in prison if convicted on all of the counts against him, has pleaded innocent and repeated in a radio interview on Sunday that the charges against him were "totally fabricated."

His lawyers have argued that the mother of Jackson's now 15-year-old accuser invented the abuse claims after latching on to the entertainer in a bid to get money from him.

They also have painted Sneddon as an overzealous prosecutor, intent on taking down Jackson at all costs, especially after his attempt to bring charges a decade earlier failed.

Posted by Nancy at 10:39 AM | Comments (0)

Past abuse claims haunt Jackson

Judge to decide whether to allow previous evidence

March 28, 2005 [Associated Press]
By Tim Malloy

SANTA MARIA - Michael Jackson tried to close the door on a 1993 claim of child molestation when he paid millions to a young accuser, but a court hearing today could resurrect those allegations.

The judge in the pop star's trial will decide whether prosecutors can introduce past claims to show jurors a pattern of abuse.

"It's like a nuclear bomb in this case," said Jim Hammer, a former San Francisco prosecutor and Fox News analyst. "(Jurors) are trying to do the right thing and if they see two or three kids say the same thing... the odds that they will convict him will go up astronomically."

The jury has been told of the 1993 allegations by a then-13-year-old boy, but the judge has discretion about what details become evidence. He could order testimony from the silenced accuser, and also let prosecutors say if there were other settlements.

NBC's "Dateline" has reported that the singer paid $2 million to the son of an employee at his Neverland Ranch in 1990.

Same attorney used

If earlier allegations are used to show a pattern of behavior, the defense is ready with a counter-argument that the current accuser's family used the 1993 case as a model for a shakedown.

Defense attorneys have already made sure jurors know that both boys had the same attorney, Larry Feldman, and were interviewed by the same psychologist, Dr. Stan J. Katz.

The 1993 accuser declined to cooperate with a criminal investigation of his claims after he received millions of dollars in a civil settlement.

"The defense is saying that was the motivation," said Dana Cole, a defense attorney following the case. "It really does provide the motivation for the family... to do what they're doing if you assume their allegations are false."

Cole, a close friend of Jackson lead attorney Thomas Mesereau who has worked with him on several other molestation cases, said the defense would prefer that the 1993 allegations not be allowed in the current case.

Evidence can be disastrous

Judge Rodney S. Melville denied a defense motion for a mistrial earlier this month filed on the grounds that Jackson's former maid, Kiki Fournier, testified about the singer's close friendships with several 10- to 14-year-old boys who stayed at his Neverland ranch. The boys she mentioned included the 1993 accuser.

Melville said he denied the motion because prosecutors elicited the testimony to establish how much contact Jackson had with the boys, not to suggest any impropriety by Jackson.

California's evidence code allows admission of evidence about past allegations as long as the investigative value outweighs the prejudicial effect it could have on jurors.

In a trial that has already included days of prosecutors showing jurors dozens of adult magazines seized from Jackson's home, the admission of evidence from the 1993 case could create yet another embarrassment.

Investigators photographed Jackson's genitals in an attempt to corroborate the accuser's description of what he said were distinctive markings. If the accuser is called to testify, the photographs could be among the evidence.

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

March 27, 2005

New director for Child Haven

March 27, 2005 [The Reporter]

Solano Country, CA - The Board of Directors of Child Haven Inc. recently named Chris Erbe as executive director of the child abuse prevention and treatment.
The nonprofit agency provides counseling, therapy and parenting services to Solano County families.

Erbe is a resident of Solano County with experience in the local nonprofit field having worked previously with the Children's Network.

A public schoolteacher and administrator prior to coming to the nonprofit world, Erbe has more than 30 years of diverse experience working with children and families.

Future goals for the organization under his leadership include strengthening ties with funding agencies, increasing access to children's mental health services for all families needing that assistance, and establishing a coalition of Solano County nonprofit agencies.

Erbe wants to ensure nonprofits continued survival in these tough times of dwindling financial resources.

Posted by Nancy at 07:49 AM | Comments (0)

March 26, 2005

County to proclaim Child Abuse Awareness Month

March 26, 2005 [Sweetwater Reporter]

Sweetwater, TX - The Commissioners' Court of Nolan County is expected to pass a resolution proclaiming April as Child Abuse Aware-ness Month during its regular meeting at 9 a.m. Monday.

The commissioners will also discuss and take action on a request to close the northern most part of County Road 104 from approximately 4,400 feet north to Fisher County line.

A proposal from Becky Brock of the County-City Library for the purchase of a new phone system will also be considered.

Posted by Nancy at 07:41 AM | Comments (0)

March 25, 2005

Report on sex abuse by peacekeepers calls for DNA testing and child support

March 25, 2005 [The Washington Post]
By Colum Lynch

UNITED NATIONS – A report to the United Nations yesterday proposed forcing peacekeepers to submit to DNA tests to establish whether they have sexually abused women or girls and to ensure that those who father children while on mission pay child support.

The proposal reflects mounting concern that large numbers of so-called peacekeeper babies are being abandoned, tarnishing the reputation of blue-helmeted U.N. force among the communities it was sent to help. The issue has come to light through a series of investigations into sexual exploitation by U.N. personnel in Congo.

The initiative is part of a broader set of reforms aimed at halting an ongoing sexual abuse scandal plaguing U.N. operations in Congo, Liberia, Burundi, Haiti and other parts of the world.

The 41-page report, written by Prince Zeid Hussein, Jordan's U.N. ambassador and a former U.N. peacekeeper, calls for establishing a trust fund for women victimized by U.N. personnel, garnisheeing the wages of peacekeeper offenders and compelling countries that provide peacekeepers to prosecute those responsible for sex crimes.

"The founders of the United Nations did not intend that the privileges and immunities of (U.N. personnel) should constitute a shield from national prosecution for crimes committed in a state hosting a U.N. operation," Zeid wrote.

In July, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan asked Zeid to travel to Congo, where investigators have documented more than 150 allegations of sexual misconduct by U.N. personnel, and undertake a review of U.N. policies on sexual exploitation.

Annan endorsed the report's proposals, and Zeid said he will now focus on persuading governments to support his reforms.

The United Nations' blue helmets, who were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1988, have long enjoyed a reputation as peacemakers in some of the world's most dangerous and traumatized countries. The United Nations has about 80,000 peacekeepers on 17 missions. But it has been shadowed by sexual abuse scandals over the past 15 years in Cambodia, Bosnia, Kosovo and elsewhere.

"The history of peacekeeping has been one of distinguished collective accomplishment and personal sacrifice," Annan wrote in an introduction to the report. But he said "the revelations in 2004 of sexual exploitation and abuse by a significant number of U.N. peacekeeping personnel in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have done great harm to the name of peacekeeping."

The report also calls for the creation of a permanent U.N. investigative team, which would include a lawyer or prosecutor from the offender's country, to investigate sex abuse cases.

And it urges nations that supply peacekeepers to establish special courts-martial at the scene of a crime to prosecute individuals from their own countries.

It also calls for the creation of a data tracking system to follow investigations of abuse and determine whether perpetrators have been prosecuted.

The United Nations does not track the children abandoned by its peacekeepers. But one recent investigation into sexual exploitation in the Congolese town of Bunia cited "a growing number of babies allegedly fathered" by U.N. soldiers and civilians.

Posted by Nancy at 07:56 AM | Comments (0)

Conference to develop new anti-child abuse strategies

March 25, 2005 [AEDT]

Australia - Northern Territory police will work on ways to reduce the level of child abuse at a national conference later this year.

Senior police officers from Australia will attend the conference, which will work on developing strategies to help combat child sex abuse.

Territory Police Commissioner Paul White says there is a strong police focus on reducing crimes against children.

"It's an insidious crime and we need to do all that we can to eradicate it and to provide the greatest protection possible for the children of our community," he said.

Commissioner White says technological advances have made it necessary for police to develop new measures to target criminals.

"The Internet, for all the good things it does, can also facilitate some types of crime that perhaps we haven't seen the level of before," he said.

"Child pornography is probably a good example of that, where the Internet is used or... abused or misused."

Posted by Nancy at 07:45 AM | Comments (0)

March 24, 2005

Jury awards victim $437,000 from San Jose priest's sex abuse

March 24, 2005 [Associated Press] By Lisa Leff

SAN FRANCISCO – The Archdiocese of San Francisco was ordered by a jury Thursday to pay $437,000 to a California man who says he was repeatedly fondled by a San Jose priest during the 1970s in a ruling that could influence hundreds of potential settlements statewide.

The San Francisco County Superior Court jury deliberated on damages for less than five hours before putting a price on Dennis Kavanaugh's emotional suffering, troubled personal life and lost wages.

Neither Kavanaugh nor his attorney would say whether they were pleased or disappointed with the size of the award.

"A positive statement was made for the survivors, including myself," Kavanaugh said outside of court. "I look forward to being helpful any way I can to the other survivors who are still to come."

Bishop John Wester said the church had no plans to appeal the verdict and is "committed to a just compensation to all victims of clergy sexual abuse."

Wester added that he admired Kavanaugh's courage for coming forward and "pray that this will bring closure to him and is part of his healing."

David Clohessy, executive director of the Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests, praised Kavanaugh for coming forward.

"No amount of money can magically restore a stolen childhood, a shattered self-esteem or a devastated faith life," Clohessy said in a statement. "Still, I'm confident that Dennis and his family will feel very proud of what they have achieved – finally holding church officials accountable in court for horrific cover-ups of horrific sex crimes."

During the weeklong trial, Kavanaugh's lawyer, Larry Drivon, linked the molestation by Pritchard to Kavanaugh's dropping out of college, divorcing his wife, serving prison time for assault and feeling guilty and ashamed.

"They took away his belief in God, they took away his faith, they removed a large portion of his soul," Drivon said in closing arguments, urging the panel to be generous in compensating his client.

Church attorneys did not question Kavanaugh's claim of abuse and acknowledged he suffered from it, but disputed whether the molestation is the sole source of his problems.

Kavanaugh had asked for unspecified damages, but a lawyer for the archdiocese said during his closing argument that $200,000 would be proper.

Kavanaugh's civil lawsuit was the first of more than 750 against Roman Catholic dioceses in California to go to trial since the state temporarily lifted the statute of limitations for filing sex-abuse claims in 2002. The new law gave victims, whose allegations had previously been considered too old, one year to file molestation claims.

More than 150 lawsuits have been filed in Northern California, including about 75 naming the San Francisco Archdiocese.

Damage awards in Kavanaugh's case, along with another case headed to trial against the Oakland diocese, could influence eventual settlements statewide.

A spokesman for the Archdiocese Maurice Healy said it was difficult to predict how this verdict would impact the other pending claims.

"We let the faithful know we are going to reach settlements and in total it can be a significant financial impact," Healy said.

Posted by Nancy at 08:56 AM | Comments (0)

March 23, 2005

Youth Minister Convicted Of Child Sex Abuse

March 23, 2005 [Associated Press]

Teen Said He Had Sex With Man At Age 16

ARLINGTON, Va. -- An Arlington County jury has acquitted a former youth minister of charges that he raped a teenage choirboy.

But 29-year-old Antawn McCullum was found guilty of taking indecent liberties with the boy, who was 16 at the time.

McCullum has been in jail since his November arrest on the felony charges.

The two-day trial hinged on the testimony of the victim. He described several occasions when the two had sex about two years ago.

The penalty phase of the trial begins Wednesday. McCullum faces up to five years in prison.

Posted by Nancy at 08:37 AM | Comments (0)

March 22, 2005

Police launch child porn raids

March 22, 2005 [The Courier Mail]
By Glenis Green

AUSTRALIA - POLICE have recovered more than 250,000 child abuse images and charged 29 people as a result of a week-long operation targeting child pornography which culminated in a series of raids on homes on the Sunshine Coast yesterday.

As part of the ongoing fallout from the suspected abduction and murder of Palmwoods schoolboy Daniel Morcombe more than a year ago, raid targets were chosen in part because they lived near to where the 13-year-old was last seen.

One of the men arrested had 140,000 movie files on his computer which included images of penetrative sex involving boys aged from 10 to 15

Those charged ranged in age from 20 up to a man in his late 70s, but police said yesterday there was no proven link at this stage that anyone raided was connected with Daniel's disappearance.

Alleged offenders came from all walks of life, from the unemployed to labourers and tradesmen. Some were married, others single and some had children of their own.

In cases where those arrested had children, police said the matter had been referred for monitoring and the Department of Child Services had been advised.

However there was no evidence of offences against alleged offenders' children at this stage.

Unlike other recent raids, none of those targeted yesterday was working in an occupation involving contact with children.

State Crime Operations Command Detective Superintendent Ross Barnett, who was in charge of the operation codenamed Taskforce Argos, said 57 search warrants had been executed as part of the investigation over the past week on the Sunshine Coast, culminating in 26 warrants yesterday.

"Computer equipment seized at some addresses during the last week is still being examined and we anticipate as a result of that examination that further charges will be preferred," he said.

"These raids are part of a continuing statewide effort to combat child pornography.

"In addition to the prosecutions we hope that the work of the taskforce will have a deterrent effect and make people realise they should not be accessing or downloading child pornography."

Supt Barnett said of those arrested, 15 had been specifically charged with child pornography offences while the remainder were facing a variety of drugs, firearms and weapons charges.

"Of the 15 arrested for child pornography there were 31 offences of child pornography laid and we recovered more than 250,000 child pornography images," he said.

Taskforce Argos operations manager Acting Inspector Jon Rouse said the message was starting to get through to child abusers.

"Quite clearly one encouraging thing identified in this phase of the operation is that we probably dropped . . . from 75 per cent of arrests in Operation Auxin . . . down to 25-30 per cent," he said.

Police said there was no evidence at this stage that any of those arrested had produced the offensive material themselves.

Those charged had either been taken to the Maroochydore watchhouse for processing or given summonses to appear in court at a later date.

Acting Insp Rouse said normal precautions were being taken for the wellbeing of those charged in the wake of several suicides following previous operations "but once they get bail it's out of our hands".

Supt Barnett and Acting Insp Rouse said yesterday's raids were the last under current legislation in which lighter penalties of up to two years' jail would apply.

"If there's any warning in this, the next range of operations that will be conducted will probably have far more dire consequences in court . . . The penalty will now include up to five years' jail," Acting Insp Rouse said.

Posted by Nancy at 04:19 AM | Comments (0)

March 21, 2005

Child Sodomy Suspect Confesses To More Abuse

March 21, 2005 [Associated Press]

NEW YORK -- A man who was charged with raping and sodomizing seven children in Queens has confessed to assaulting more children, authorities said.

Michael Flory, 48, was arraigned Friday on five charges of rape, criminal sexual acts and sexual abuse against five girls and two boys aged between 7 and 11 years old. Some of them lived near Flory's former home in College Point section of Queens.

He allegedly raped, sodomized and otherwise sexually abused the children in his home and in his van between March 1 and March 11.

He was arrested when one of alleged victims reported being abused, police and prosecutors said. Other parents who lived near Flory's former home in College Point, Queens, spoke to their children and discovered they also had been abused.

Authorities are also investigating whether he assaulted any of the three children he has with his wife, with whom he lives in West Hempstead in Long Island.

Police officials said Flory, an unemployed auto mechanic admitted the additional crimes when he was questioned after being arrested. It was unclear how many other children may be involved in the assaults.

He faces first-degree rape and other charges and could face as many as 50 years in prison if convicted.

Posted by Nancy at 04:46 AM | Comments (0)

Crisis Center offers two groups for child victims of abuse

March 21, 2005 [Jacksonville progress]
By Lauren LaFleur - Progress News Writer

Approximately one out of three girls and one out of five boys will be sexually abused before the age of 18, according to the Crisis Center of Anderson and Cherokee County's Web site, www.mycrisiscenter.com

"Approximately one half of batterers also intentionally injure their children physically and/or sexually," the site states, but "regardless of whether children are physically abused, the emotional effects of witnessing domestic violence are very similar with the psychological trauma associated with being a victim of child abuse."

For just those reasons, the center will begin two special groups this week - one aimed at teenage victims of sexual abuse and the other designed for child victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse.

"The reason we decided to do kids groups is because sometimes peers give feedback that a parent or counselor can't," said Amanda Cordova, Crisis Center counselor and facilitator for the two new groups.

TASA - or Teens Against Sexual Abuse - is designed with the female teenage victim of sexual assault in mind.

"We're hoping (through the group's work) they can build trust and understanding," Cordova said. "Also, we want them to develop some social skills and self-esteem and self-responsibility."

The group will meet 3-4 p.m. every Tuesday, beginning Tuesday through April 26, at the Crisis Center in Jacksonville.

The group will be led by Cordova and counselor Sherrie Saenz.

The second new group - Kids Interactive Discovery Station, or KIDS - will also meet for six weeks, 3-4 p.m. Thursdays at the center's Jacksonville location.

The group is designed for kids ages 5-6 years old who are victims of domestic violence or sexual abuse, Cordova said.

"We are planning on using some play therapy technologies in the group," Cordova said. "In play therapy, children will work their problems out through play, because that's their natural environment."

Cordova and Saenz will both facilitate the KIDS group.

For more information about either group, or to sign up for the groups, call the Crisis Center at 903-586-9118 or 1-800-232-8519

Posted by Nancy at 04:27 AM | Comments (0)

March 18, 2005

Child advocates fight abuse bill

March 18, 2005 [Associated Press]

JEFFERSON CITY (AP) - Child advocacy groups say proposed changes to the state’s child-protection laws could decrease the number of neglect and abuse cases reported in Missouri by making the criteria for reporting such crimes too specific.

Under the legislation, doctors, teachers, social workers and others who are required to report certain kinds of abuse would have to recognize specific signs before calling the state’s hot line. Those include such indicators as severe bruising, burns and malnutrition.

Teachers and counselors also would be required to call the hot line when they have evidence that teens "under the age of consent" are having sex. But the proposal doesn’t define the state’s age of consent, which is different depending on the age of each person involved.

Critics say the measure would undermine the ability of social workers, doctors and teachers to use their discretion in reporting suspected abuse. The definition of abuse is too specific, they say, and there’s no reason for the provision about underage sex.

Colleen Coble, executive director of the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said the word "severe" might cause people to wait too long to report abuse that could be stopped before it gets that bad.

"There should be reports of abuse before it becomes classified as ‘severe,’ " she said.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Richard Byrd, R-Kirkwood, said he wants to protect teens 15 and under from being sexually abused and help clear up vague language in the law. He said doctors and teachers aren’t sure what "abuse" really means under Missouri’s current law.

Otto Fajen, a lobbyist for the Missouri chapter of the National Education Association, said the list of criteria could prevent teachers from reporting abuse because they’re not familiar with everything on it.

"The danger that you get into is when someone who suspects abuse says, ‘I think something’s not right here, but I have to look at the list first,’ " Fajen said.

Byrd said he plans to reword the legislation but keep the word "severe" because without it doctors would feel obligated to report such things as sunburns and skinned knees.

Critics also question the provision requiring teachers and counselors to report knowledge of sex between underage teens. They said the age requirement could discourage teens from reporting sexual assaults.

"It wouldn’t take very long for word to spread" among teens "that if you talk about a sexual assault, you’ll be reported," Coble said. "It’s hard enough for adult women to deal with violence in their relationships."

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

March 11, 2005

AirTran Airways Receives Corporate Friend of Children Award From Child Welfare League of America

March 11, 2005 [Press Release PRWeb]

Airline's Philanthropic Work with CHRIS Kids, Inc. and other Children's Organizations Recognized

ORLANDO, Fla., March 11 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- AirTran Airways, a subsidiary of AirTran Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: AAI - News), today announced that the company received the 2005 Corporate Friend of Children Award from the Child Welfare League of America. The award was presented to the airline last night in a ceremony at the CWLA's national conference in Washington, D.C.
"AirTran Airways is pleased to be involved in each of the communities we serve, and we are honored to receive this prestigious award," said AirTran Airways President and COO Robert L. Fornaro. "By donating their time as well as through financial contributions, the 6,000 Crew Members of AirTran Airways take special pride in giving back to their hometowns, especially to organizations that improve the lives of children."

AirTran Airways was nominated for the award by CHRIS Kids, Inc., an Atlanta-based organization that provides treatment alternatives for less- fortunate children in the area. As part of its nomination, CHRIS Kids identified AirTran Airways as a "tireless and innovative supporter of the children and families within its corporate family and community."

"We are extremely happy to support such a worthwhile organization as CHRIS Kids, Inc., and we thank them for nominating us for this award," said AirTran Airways Director of Marketing Tad Hutcheson. "Our Crew Members enjoyed the opportunity to spend time with the kids when they accompanied us to Seattle for the delivery ceremonies of our new Boeing 737 last summer where we raised $65,000 for the organization by pulling the aircraft 65 feet, as well as when we hosted their trip to the North Pole at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport over the holidays."

CWLA, the nation's oldest and largest membership-based child welfare organization, is committed to engaging all Americans in promoting the well- being of children, youth and families, and protecting every child from harm. The organization is comprised of nearly 1,000 member agencies that provide direct services to more than 9 million children across the country each year.

CHRIS Kids was founded in 1981 to break the cycle of abuse by healing children, strengthening families and building community. CHRIS Kids offers hope and healing to troubled children and families. The organization seeks to heal some of the most challenging children in Georgia's child welfare system -- children and adolescents who, by virtue of a well-established entanglement in a failed placement cycle, cannot change their 'blueprint' of failure and disruption.

AirTran Airways, one of America's largest low-fare airlines with 6,000 friendly, professional Crew Members, operates over 500 daily flights to more than 40 destinations. The airline's hub is at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, where it is the second largest carrier. AirTran Airways, the world's largest operator of the Boeing 717, recently added the fuel-efficient Boeing 737-700 aircraft to create America's youngest all-Boeing fleet. The airline is also the first carrier to install XM Satellite Radio on a commercial aircraft. For reservations or more information, visit http://www.airtran.com (America Online Keyword: AirTran)

Media Contact: Tad Hutcheson
tad.hutcheson@airtran.com
678.254.7442 Judy Graham-Weaver
judy.graham-weaver@airtran.com
678.254.7448

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

March 10, 2005

Teacher pleads guilty to child abuse

March 7, 2005 [HernandoToday.com]
By Paul Quinlan

BROOKSVILLE - The trial of a former West Hernando Middle School teacher accused of inappropriately touching a 13-year-old female student ended suddenly Monday when he agreed to plead guilty to a reduced charge.

Dennis Lawrence Morrissey, 59, of 7136 Pinehurst Drive in Spring Hill, will serve six months in the Hernando County Jail, five months of probation and undergo sex offender treatment after pleading guilty to child abuse, according to Assistant State Attorney Marlene Wells.

Though he will not have to register as a sex offender, Morrissey must surrender his teaching certificate and may not have contact with a minor without the supervision of an adult, Wells said.

During a 20-minute recess that followed more than two hours of jury selection, Wells said she offered Morrissey the option to plead guilty to child abuse, a third-degree felony that carries a lighter penalty.
When the trial began Monday, Morrissey's Tampa defense attorney, John A. Grant III, was prepared to defend the former teacher on second-degree felony charge of lewd and lascivious molestation, a second-degree felony that carries a maximum penalty of 15 years' jail time.

Morrissey changed his plea to guilty before Circuit Court Judge Jack Springstead.
Wells said the offer was intended to keep the 13-year-old girl from having to testify in front of the courtroom.

"This is basically to spare the child from having to testify and go through this," Wells said. "She's young."

Morrissey had rejected an earlier plea deal made last year when prosecutors offered him six years' jail time followed by sex offender probation, Wells said.
"We were able to negotiate it to child abuse," Wells said of today's agreement.

Morrissey was accused of inappropriately touching a 13-year-old female student and telling her he loved her last year. The teacher became acquainted with the girl in 2002, when she enrolled in his geography class.
An arrest report said the incident occurred on May 11, 2004, when the then-13-year-old girl and a friend went into his classroom to say hello to him.

The report said Morrissey, then a social studies teacher, began rubbing the girl's back. He then put his hands down the back of her pants and began rubbing her buttocks, according to police.

After she pulled away, the teacher approached her again, put his arms around her and began squeezing her breasts, the report said.

The girl left and went into another classroom. Morrissey followed her, the report said, and asked the teacher in the other classroom if he could speak with the girl.

He walked with her around campus, telling her that although he knew it was wrong, he loved her, investigators said.

When the Hernando County Sheriff's Office began investigating, Morrissey made a call from the sheriff's office on a recorded line.

Investigators said Morrissey referred to the girl "babe" several times and ended the call by saying he loved her.

The Hernando County School Board suspended the teacher after his arrest and eventually fired him in July of 2004.

Morrissey joined the county school system in 1977 as a teacher at Mitchell Black Elementary School. He joined the faculty at West Hernando Middle School in 1981, where he taught full-time and coached boys' and girls' sports.

During the 2002-2003 school year he received his full salary of $45,800.

Reporter Cliff Hightower and researcher Buddy Jaudon contributed to this report.
Reporter Paul Quinlan can be contacted at (352) 544-5289

Posted by Nancy at 07:29 AM | Comments (0)

March 07, 2005

Sex abuse case ends in deal

March 7, 2005 [Selma Times Journal]
By Steven Jones, Times-Journal City Editor
[Posted here with reporters permission]

A Perry County man pleaded guilty to a charge of first degree sex abuse and was sentenced to three years in prison.

Kelvin Woods, 19, was accused of sexually abusing an 11-year-old boy last year. He was 18 when the crime was committed.

Woods and four other individuals grabbed the boy and forced him to perform oral sex on Woods, According to assistant district attorney Shannon Lynch.

The boy was unable to identify the other four attackers, Lynch said, but she said he did pick out Woods in a police lineup.

"(They) grabbed the kid from behind," Lynch said, explaining why he couldn't identify them.

Lynch said the attack occurred when the child was visiting a friend at a Marion apartment complex.

Lynch said she was content with the sentence, but would have like to had a longer one.

She said that for her the main focus was to protect the victim and see to it that justice was served.

"This kid was terrified and embarrassed," she said. "Three years in (the victim's) mind was enough justice to where people would believe him that it was a crime."

Lynch said she was grateful for the opportunity to serve the boy's interests in the case.

"I greatly respect (District Attorney) Michael Jackson for allowing the District Attorney's office to crack down on violence against women and children in every form," she said.

Jackson said the drive would continue.

"People need to realize the punishment will be severe to those who try to destroy an innocent life," she said.

Ultimately, Lynch said, all sex abuse cases are about protecting the victim.

"I just want him to go back to being a normal little boy again," she said, " and play with his video games."

Lynch did say the case ended happily for her at least, with the conviction and helping the victim.

"That was the perfect day," she said. "I finally made him smile."

Posted by Nancy at 06:31 AM | Comments (0)

Bill would extend statute of limitations on child sex abuse

March 7, 2005 [Associated Press]

SALEM, Ore. - Oregon House members have approved a bill that would extend the statute of limitations on criminals who sexually abuse children.

Currently, prosecution is allowed until the victim is 24 years old - or about six years from when the crime was reported.

But the new bill would extend that to 12 years - or until the victim turns 30.

House Speaker Karen Minnis, a Republican from Wood Village, is the sponsor of the bill.

She says she decided to push the bill after hearing stories about child molesters who never faced prosecution.

Opponents of the measure contend that statutes of limitations prevent prosecutions that rely on faulty memories.

Still, the House voted 49-to-10 to send the measure to the Senate.

Posted by Nancy at 05:57 AM | Comments (0)

March 06, 2005

Woman settles Nome clergy abuse case

March 3, 2005 [Fairbanks Daily News-Miner]
By Mary Beth Smetzer, Staff Writer

A settlement in the $1 million range has been reached in a child sexual abuse case against Father Jim Poole--who founded radio station KNOM in Nome--as well as the Fairbanks Catholic Diocese and the Society of Jesus Oregon Province said Ken Roosa, the attorney for Elsie Boudreau, formerly identified as Jane Doe 1.

Monday, lawyers on both sides of the case signed off on a binding agreement for a settlement that is still being worked out, Roosa said.

"We're working on it. I don't know anything more than that," Roosa said. "All we've got to be is be patient."

Boudreau claims Poole sexually abused her repeatedly from the time she was 10 until she was 16 years old.

A year ago this month, Boudreau sued Poole, a Jesuit who worked 40 years in Alaska.

Boudreau accused Poole of kissing and fondling her dozens of times, starting in 1978, during summer visits to Nome, and continuing until she was 16. The abuse included heavy petting and having her lie on top of him, the lawsuit stated.

Poole, 82, now living in a Jesuit retirement community in Spokane, Wash., first arrived in Alaska in 1948 as a seminarian. He was assigned to Holy Cross, Pilot Station, Marshall, Mountain Village, St. Marys, Barrow and Nome.

In a recent interview, Boudreau said she decided to report Poole during the summer of 2003 when her own child was turning 10, the age she was when Poole began abusing her. Boudreau said she only decided to file suit after getting an inadequate response from the church hierarchy.

Boudreau, a Yupik woman in her mid-30s with a master's degree, said Wednesday that she decided to reveal her identity so that people could see that she is a real person and perhaps come forward with their own stories.

"Just getting to the settlement doesn't mean it is over in terms of healing. There's other work that needs to be done. It's not over," Boudreau said.

In addition to the monetary settlement, Roosa said Fairbanks Bishop Donald Kettler will help Boudreau acquire a licensed use or long-term easement on the Andreafsky River near St. Marys, where she wants to build a memorial to the children who lost their innocence to sexual abuse by priests and clerics. She envisions it as a contemplative, quiet setting, Roosa said.

Ronnie Rosenberg, human resources director for the Fairbanks Diocese and a retired attorney, confirmed that the diocese is anticipating finalizing a settlement in the Jane Doe 1 lawsuit shortly.

In December, Patricia Hess of Anchorage, who alleged she suffered abuse at the hands of Poole, reached a monetary settlement with the Fairbanks Diocese and the Society of Jesus Oregon Province, without filing a lawsuit.

A second lawsuit against Poole, filed in Bethel Superior Court last June by Jane Doe 2, also alleges sexual abuse by Poole over an eight-year period beginning when she was age 12. The complaint states that Poole impregnated Jane Doe 2 at age 14, and told her to "get rid of the baby" and blame the pregnancy on her father.

That lawsuit is still pending, and is not actively being negotiated at the present time, Rosenberg said.

"We would like to get all these cases settled, if we could come to a meeting of the minds," Rosenberg said, referencing more than 50 unsettled complaints filed against four other Catholic priests and a brother that remain unresolved.

How the mounting monetary settlements will affect the financial health of the missionary diocese hasn't yet been determined.

"Obviously, the bishop is needing to strike a fair balance between people who may have been injured decades ago, and the current needs that the diocese serves today," Rosenberg said.

"We would urge people again to come forward. We all abhor the crime of sexual abuse against children and would like to do anything possible to root it out and to heal people who have been affected by it," Rosenberg said.

Mary Beth Smetzer can be reached at msmetzer at newsminer.com or 459-7546. The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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

Reilly changes stance on statute of limitations for child sex abuse

Sunday, March 6, 2005 [Associated Press]

BOSTON— Attorney General Tom Reilly, reversing his earlier stance, said he will support legislation to eliminate the 15-year statute of limitations for sex-abuse crimes against children.

"A predator of a child should never be out of the reach of the law," Reilly said in a telephone interview with the Boston Sunday Globe. "If a prosecutor can make a case, and there are victims who are willing and able to make that case, the law should not stand in their way."

The recent trial of former priest Paul Shanley was a factor for Reilly, who described the prosecution of Shanley as "a very important case."

Reilly met with the victim in that case, and on the day of Shanley's sentencing to 12 to 15 years in prison, the courtroom was filled with alleged Shanley victims who said they couldn't press charges because of the statute of limitations.

"When someone is brave enough to come forward and testify and confront their abuser, they should not be prevented because of any technicality in the law," Reilly said.

In Shanley's case, the then-priest left the state in 1990, stopping the clock on the statute of limitations. After his arrest in 2002, his case became a public example of the problems of prosecuting sexual abusers in cases dating back decades.

In 2003, after Reilly's office delivered a report that found clergy may have abused up to 1,000 children over the last 60 years, Reilly said he could not support elimination of the statute. He said he instead supported tougher penalties for priests and others who didn't report abuse.

Reilly's announcement could give new life to legislation that has foundered in the Legislature despite lobbying from legal advocates and alleged victims. Reilly said he would support the basic outlines of legislation from Rep. Ronald Mariano, D-Quincy.

That legislation would eliminate the 15-year cap for persons who commit rape, assault of a children with intent to commit rape, incest, open and gross lewdness and other crimes.

Advocates for scrapping the cap praised Reilly on Saturday.

"There is no single more effective reform that will prevent future abuse. With the limit, as it stands, abusers and those who shield abusers have an incentive to destroy evidence, and intimidate witnesses, and threaten victims, simply to let the clock run out on these horrific crimes," said David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

Posted by Nancy at 12:37 AM | Comments (0)

March 05, 2005

Sister of Jackson Accuser Cites Own Abuse

March 5, 2005 [Associated Press]
By Linda Deutsch, AP Special Correspondent

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - The sister of Michael Jackson (news)'s accuser testified she once accused her own father of molesting her, imprisoning her and making terrorist threats — claims similar to those the family has lodged against the pop star.

The teenager returned to the stand Friday for a second day of giving testimony in Jackson's child molestation trial.

"It was a horrible experience to find out ... that he had done that to me when I was young," the young woman said of her father, who is now divorced from her mother.

She told jurors she learned from her mother that she had been sexually abused.

"When you were interviewed by police (for the Jackson case), you never told them your father molested you," defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. said.

Her reply: "They weren't asking me about that, and I was very young."

Mesereau's cross-examination was intended to show that the family has a history of making allegations of mistreatment. The lawyer also asked about a lawsuit the family brought against J.C. Penney claiming abuse, but the young woman said she wasn't present during that incident and didn't know the details.

The young woman spend much of her time on the witness stand Friday watching a video of herself, her mother and two brothers praising Jackson as a father figure who rescued them from poverty and helped cure her brother of cancer.

"God worked through Michael to help us," the mother of the accuser said in the video played for the jury. "When we saw no hope, Michael said there was hope. ... We were broken and Michael fixed us."

The video was shown to Jackson's jury at the end of the trial's first week of testimony, and as the pop star left court for the weekend he commented to reporters: "It went very good, it went very good."

Jackson denies the charges of molestation and Mesereau has portrayed the accuser's family as greedy con artists who traded on the son's cancer to solicit money from many celebrities .

District Attorney Tom Sneddon showed the video. Mesereau had promised to show it if the prosecution didn't.

Sneddon suggested Jackson's associates had the family make the tape under duress about two weeks after a Feb. 6, 2003, TV documentary by British journalist Martin Bashir in which the accuser appeared with Jackson, who said he allowed the boy to sleep in his bed while he slept on the floor.

Sneddon claims the rebuttal video was staged and scripted.

The sister was seen with tears streaming down her face and saying of Jackson, "He's a very caring, humble man. He took us under his wing when no one else would."

Her brother, the accuser, said he asked Jackson, "Can I call you Daddy?" and Jackson had responded that was fine.

At one point, the boy's mother brought up the family's financial problems. She spoke bitterly of authorities who didn't come forward to help her when she lacked the money for bus fare to take her son to the doctor.

"We know what it is to be poor but in all the time with Michael there are no money problems. He fulfills our needs," she said.

In another segment, the mother suggests she and her son mimic a scene from the Bashir interview. It showed the boy holding hands with Jackson and leaning his head on the pop star's shoulder.

In spite of that, the sister maintained no one in the family had seen the Bashir video.

Asked about her mother's statements about how poor they were, the witness said, "She was just trying to make it more dramatic. There was a script."

Also during cross-examination, the young woman backtracked on her earlier allegations that Jackson poured wine for children at his Neverland ranch.

She acknowledged that she told sheriff's investigators she assumed the liquid was wine because they were in a wine cellar.

"I was young back then," she said. "I didn't know I had to say every little detail for it to be right."

Four of the charges in Jackson's 10-count indictment accuse him of administering alcohol to the boy to assist in committing child molestation.

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

Pervert Catweazle's Last Wish to Prey on a Child

March 5, 2005 [sundaymail.co.uk]
By Marion Scott

THE dying wish of paedophile George 'Catweazle' Belmonte was to abuse one more child.

The ex-wife of the 72-year-old pervert has revealed he remained a danger to children until his death last week. Belmonte left a sickening book trying to justify why he abused children for more than 40 years.

Ex-wife Laura, 65, said: 'He blackmailed me into staying in touch with him by threatening to make up lies about me in his book.

'George claimed he'd written about all the hundreds of children he'd touched.

'He told me his dying wish was to abuse 'one more child'. He was still determined to abuse children as long as he had breath in his body.'

The pervert, who died in a Dumfries hospital from cancer on Thursday, spent almost 20 years behind bars for abusing children.

He left his book to local writer Frank Ryan, who said yesterday: 'There's no doubt Belmonte was a truly evil man.

'Right up until his last days, I would have judged him to be a danger to children. He never expressed a shred of remorse.'

Belmonte was freed just four months ago after serving part of a two-year sentence for luring a boy of seven and a girl of 12 to a picnic and taking pictures of a schoolgirl.

Likened to Moors Murderer Ian Brady because he taped his victims'desperate cries for help, Belmonte surfaced in Dumfries six years ago.

The Jersey-born pervert was put up in a £200,000 luxury mansion by social workers while locals threatened to lynch him.

He had six children, all of whom have changed their names to be free of their monster father.

Third wife Laura, a prison visitor, married Belmonte in 1998 during one of his spells in jail without knowing his full identity.

She said that he hinted he may have even killed.

Laura said: 'He would laugh at how easy it was to get to little children in quiet country areas like Dumfries. He'd say poor parents in council estates were easy fodder.

'He'd ask me if I realised just how easy it was to get rid of a body, especially a little body of a child. It chilled me to the bone.

'I'd ask him if he'd killed and he'd laugh and say, 'Wait till you read my book.'

Posted by Nancy at 12:13 AM | Comments (0)

March 04, 2005

Internet child porn offences rise fourfold

Friday March 4, 2005 - David Batty and agencies

The number of people arrested and convicted for downloading child abuse images from the internet has more than quadrupled in the last two years, a children's charity revealed today.

Home Office figures obtained by the charity NCH showed 2,234 people were cautioned or charged with online child abuse offences in England and Wales in 2003, compared with 549 in 2001 - a rise of 307%

The charity, together with the Association of Chief Police Officers, today called on the government to establish a new body - dubbed the UK Internet Safety Centre - to investigate online child abuse.

The agency, first proposed last year by the children's charity Barnardo's, would be staffed by police, child protection experts and computer analysts.

NCH internet safety adviser John Carr said: "There is now widespread agreement about the need for a new, high-powered national centre to tackle internet crimes against children.

"The only thing there is not yet an agreement about is who should pay for it. We hope ministers can resolve this very soon. What NCH says is that we want a new national centre - and we want it now."

NCH noted that the number of people cautioned or charged in 2003 was 64 times greater than the 35 recorded in 1998 - the first year these offences were recorded. Between 2002 and 2003, the number of offences rose by 157%.

A report by the government's police watchdog warned this week that the increasing amount of time individual police forces were spending on internet paedophilia investigations was sometimes to the detriment of other types of child protection. The Inspector of Constabulary for England and Wales added that child protection officers lacked sufficient training and resources to tackle online child abuse offences.

Mr Carr put the huge rise in the number of arrests and convictions down to Operation Ore, the police investigation set up to track down people who paid to download child abuse images from a website based in Texas.

The investigation was launched after the Federal Bureau of Investigation supplied UK police with the credit card details of 6,500 Britons who accessed the US pay-per-view Landslide website to download child abuse images.

Mr Carr said: "These new and astonishing numbers reflect the arrests made during Operation Ore. But given on-going police activity, the worry is that they represent not a blip but a new 'normality'. Many police admit that they are still only touching the tip of a very ugly iceberg."

NCH also called on internet service providers (ISPs) to follow British Telecom (BT) and Vodafone in blocking their subscribers from accessing known child pornography websites.

The charity will be asking the home secretary, Charles Clarke, to investigate how many UK-based ISPs have yet to block access.

Mr Carr said: "Child pornography on the internet is a modern curse and ISPs have a critical part to play in stamping it out. BT and Vodafone showed the way. We want everyone else to follow or, I am afraid, legislation compelling them to do so will be inevitable."

BT, Britain's largest high-speed internet provider, last year announced that it was blocking 23,000 attempts to access child abuse websites every day.

Posted by Nancy at 12:08 AM | Comments (0)

Archdiocese: New Allegations Of Abuse Against Dead Priest

March 4, 2005 [Associated Press]

St. Paul (AP) The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis reported that the most recent annual survey by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops revealed new allegations of child sex abuse against one additional priest.

The allegations surfaced as 18 new victims came forward to the archdiocese in the 14 months ending in August. The archdiocese said the additional priest who was identified recently died in 1971 and the alleged abuse occurred 40 years ago.

Archdiocese spokesman Dennis McGrath said the archdiocese does not identify alleged perpetrators who are dead. "We will identify perpetrators who are still in active ministry, if anyone comes forward," he said.

That's not good enough for a local victims support group, which wants any alleged perpetrator to be publicly identified, along with that priest's work history.

Mike Wegs, a spokesman for the Minnesota chapter of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, said doing so would encourage other victims to come forward.

If the alleged perpetrator is alive, "then it's the job of the police, judges and juries to separate fact from fiction and figure out if it's true or not," Wegs said. "It's not up to the church."

All of the other alleged abusers had been known before and the archdiocese said none of them are active in ministry.

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

March 03, 2005

Child sexual abuse trial opens in France

March 3, 2005

66 men and women went on trial today on charges of child sexual abuse involving 45 children that has shocked France.

39 men and 27 women are facing charges. Prosecutors say a child prostitution ring operated from January 1999 to February 2002, in which about 15 couples offered their children for sex in exchange for small sums of money or food. They say the youngest victim was about two months old.

The hearings, in a specially built courtroom in the town of Angers, are billed as France's biggest criminal trial. The most serious charges carry possible jail terms of up to 20 years.

The main hearings are due to start on March 10, but the first part of the trial began today, with the court due to announce a ruling on a request for the proceedings to be heard behind closed doors.

The prosecution says most of the cases of abuse took place in the house of a man and woman who live in the Saint-Leonard suburb of Angers, a town that promotes itself as a gateway to the picturesque Loire valley which is popular with tourists.

Posted by Nancy at 11:53 PM | Comments (0)

March 02, 2005

Child sex abuse expert to speak at conference

March 2, 2005

New Jersey - VINELAND - Dr. Martin Finkel, a nationally known expert in the field of child sexual abuse, will be the keynote speaker at the second annual Social Work Conference from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday at South Jersey Healthcare Fitness Connection, 1430 W. Sherman Ave.

Sponsored by SJH Garden Area Health Education Center, or AHEC, the theme is "Traumatic Injury and Illness Through the Lifespan."

The purpose is to educate nurses, social workers and case managers about a variety of important social issues, including the sexual victimization of children, adolescent abuse of club drugs and the impact of living with chronic illness on older individuals and their caregivers.

Finkel is a professor of pediatrics and the medical director and founder of the Center for Children's Support at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey's School of Osteopathic Medicine. The center in 2004 was designated as the N.J. Child Abuse Research Education and Service Institute.

Finkel is an authority on the forensic medical evaluation and treatment of children alleged to have been sexually abused.

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

March 01, 2005

Bright Tomorrows gets grant for new center: Agency that counsels victims of child sexual abuse still needs more funds

March 1, 2005 [Idaho State Journal] By Casey Santee - Journal Writer

Bright Tomorrows Executive Director Kathy Downes recently received a National Children's Alliance grant of $48,485 to develop a child advocacy center. Journal photo by Bill Schaefer

POCATELLO - A local non-profit counseling agency for child sexual abuse victims and their families has received a $48,000 federal grant which it plans to spend on a new child advocacy center.

Bright Tomorrows was started 24 years ago when authorities realized it would be better to interview victims only once in a child-friendly atmosphere rather than multiple times at police stations or elsewhere.

"When a child is abused and comes forward, the more times they are questioned, the more they think adults don't believe them," said Kathy Downes, Bright Tomorrows' executive director.

Now interviews are done in a special interview room located in the courthouse annex. They are conducted only once and recorded.

"It's better than taking the child to the police station, but with an advocacy center, we could conduct interviews, medical exams and counseling all under one roof instead of shuttling the child between three locations where it is easy for them to fall between the cracks," said Downes.

Currently free counseling services are available at Bright Tomorrows' office, 956 E. Maple, and medical exams are done at Portneuf Medical Center's emergency room.

Downes said the best location for a new advocacy center would be near PMC, because the hardest part of coordinating all the services in one place away from the hospital is working around doctors' schedules.

She said it would be easier for them to go next door than to drive somewhere across town.

Chubbuck Police Chief Randy Severe said an advocacy center would not only be beneficial to the Pocatello and Chubbuck communities, but would serve victims and their families across southeast Idaho.

"We have a good working model in mind," Severe said. "But securing more funding and finding a location for the center are still problems."

Downes agrees.

She said while the recent grant will help, it is not nearly enough to construct an advocacy center.

Anyone who would like more information about Bright Tomorrows or would like to make a donation may call (208) 234-2646.

Casey Santee covers courts, law enforcement and safety for the Idaho State Journal. He can be reached at (208) 239-3135, or by e-mail at csantee at journalnet.com

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