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June 18, 2005

CPS trying to hire 850 new child abuse investigators

June 8, 2005 [Associated Press]

AUSTIN — Child Protective Services is looking for a few good men and women to join its ranks. Hundreds of new workers, actually, are needed for the state agency.

College graduates are being sought for 850 new child-abuse investigator positions that will be created in the next two years, said Darrell Azar, spokesman for CPS' parent agency, the Department of Family and Protective Services.

By mid-2007, CPS also will hire 1,670 other new employees, according to agency documents, including some 400 supervisors and 77 family-based safety services caseworkers, who also will need a bachelor's degree.

The hiring spurt is part of an attempted overhaul of CPS and its sister agency, Adult Protective Services, called for in a bill Republican Gov. Rick Perry signed Tuesday.

An emergency spending bill the governor is expected to sign this month would pump $200 million in additional state funds into CPS.

Recruiting so many college graduates for CPS' gritty work and low pay will be tough, though not impossible, said Madeline McClure, director of the Texas Association for the Protection of Children, or TexProtects.

Finding and retaining enough investigators won't be easy but can be done with the right support and pay, said McClure, who has spent several years urging improvements to the agency's recruitment and retention efforts.

CPS and APS have been under fire for more than a year. News reports showed children were beaten or starved to death even after their families came under scrutiny from CPS. Decisions by APS workers have been questioned after enfeebled adults were living in squalid, vermin-infested homes. Perry ordered audits of both agencies.

Carey Cockerell, state family and protective services commissioner, said he's ready to rebuild the two agencies.

"We are excited about the considerable resources the governor and the Legislature have given us," he said. "I am convinced that the quality of services that we provide will improve significantly, and the real winners will be the children and adults we serve."

Statewide, CPS will hire 2,517 new employees by mid-2007, and APS will get 89

Over the next two or three months, CPS will hire new managers and 33 training specialists, lease new office space and acquire additional desktop and notebook computers.

Large-scale hiring probably will not occur until late summer or early fall and then will be done in ways every quarter through August 2007, Azar said.

Perry said Texas' high caseloads for child-abuse investigators will be cut by 40 percent, from about 74 cases per worker per month now to 45 cases in 2007

But former state District Judge Scott McCown of Austin said that is still too high. In 1998, CPS investigators handled an average of 24 cases a month, but they've spiraled out of control since then, said McCown, who as a judge handled abuse and neglect cases.

"It's just unreal to think that caseloads of 45 are acceptable," said McCown, now executive director of the Center for Public Policy Priorities, which advocates for more state spending on education and social programs.

National child welfare groups recommend no more than 12 to 15 cases per month per investigator, but lawmakers say no states meet those guidelines.

Posted by Nancy at 10:25 PM | Comments (0)

June 17, 2005

New Book Released, "An Inch from Murder": Life as a Male Victim of Sexual Child Abuse

June 14, 2005 [PR WEb]

This powerful personal autobiography comes at a time when the world was watching the Michael Jackson child molestation trial. "An Inch From Murder" deals with the author's life as a male victim of sexual child abuse. Long overdue, this courageous account will benefit other male survivors who have learned to cope with multiple molestations, with valuable information for professionals and parents.

(PRWEB) June 14, 2005 -- "An Inch From Murder" was written 20 years ago and is now being brought to print for the very first time and deals with the author's life as a male victim of sexual child abuse. Drawing from the memory of past molestations from the age of four until sixteen, a trauma unfolded in adulthood profiling Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The uncanning of the abuse by seven men (including Boston Catholic Priests, a policeman, close relatives and friends) resulted in the attempted murder of the author's latest assailant; the ensuing incarceration and the attempt now to bring the issues of male victimization into focus.

Author Cornelius Ahern has come out from the main stratum of society to become a sexual child abuse statistic, and a criminal statistic as well. Now, his desired hope is that he can prevent a victim of sexual child abuse (SCA) from developing into a criminal statistic, and more importantly, work towards preventing the SCA statistic in the first place.

Studies indicate that 10-16% of all men experienced some form of sexual child abuse yet this subject has only been treated recently in scholarly journals. No other account approaches the topic in the first person as explicitly and with such graphic detail as dealt with here.

Reminded by these recent sensational reports of child sexual abuse, this compelling story comes with the author's pledge of 20 years ago: "If I could save one person's life from the heartache and anguish that has come into my life because of child sexual abuse by writing this book, then I would have truly and finally accomplished something in my lifetime - by having someone read that there is hope and recognition for the abused, and that you can get help before it's too late."

Frightened by the experiences of a maximum security prison in Connecticut and in the States' Mental Institution for the criminally insane, the victim turned aggressor and takes readers back 20 years ago in many jail cells of 15 months; editing all that information as a male survivor of sexual child abuse, completing this story for these present times.

"An Inch From Murder" (ISBN: 978-1-58939-730-9) is published by www.virtualbookworm.com/aninchfrommurder.html

For more information or to contact the author, go to www.aninchfrommurder.com

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

Bills seek to reduce child abuse

June 17, 2005 [Associated Press]

SALEM — A bill requiring school workers to warn law enforcement or the Department of Human Services about suspected child abuse by an employee cleared the Senate on 28-0 vote.

The legislation also would force schools to disclose the disciplinary records of employees convicted of drug and sex crimes.

The House, meanwhile, passed a bill that would require the human services department to release child-abuse records to the public if a child suffers a serious injury or dies from abuse.

Opening the records would help the public decide whether the department took appropriate action to protect a child, said Rep. Gordon Anderson, R-Grants Pass.

The twin pieces of legislation follow several high-profile child abuse cases.

The Department of Human Services faced criticism following the 2002 deaths of two Oregon City girls — Ashley Pond, 12, and Miranda Gaddis, 13.

An investigation revealed the agency had lost reports from Pond that she had been sexually abused by her Oregon City neighbor, Ward Weaver.

Weaver was convicted of the killings in 2004.

In southern Oregon, a former assistant coach at Gold Beach High School was arrested in April on charges that he had sexually abused several female students over a three-year period. In May, an assistant coach at South Medford High School was charged with sexually abusing a 15-year-old female student.

"It's important for you, as a community member or Oregonian, to know what's happening in our schools,'' said Sen. Vicki Walker, D-Eugene, who sponsored the bill passed by the Senate Wednesday. "This helps protect our children."

Posted by Nancy at 10:08 PM | Comments (0)

Family severed ties years ago with man suspected in thousands of cases of child sexual abuse

June 17, 2005 [Associated Press] by Curt Woodward

SEATTLE - Relatives of a man suspected in thousands of cases of child sexual abuse described him Friday as a "black sheep" whose only ties with the family dissolved years ago when his grandmother died.

Dean Schwartzmiller, 63, was arrested May 23 in Washington state on a California fugitive warrant. An anonymous tipster provided information that led to his arrest, Snohomish County Sheriff's spokesman Rich Niebusch said Friday.

Authorities searched his San Jose home and found detailed, handwritten records of 36,000 assaults over a span of decades. Headings for the logs include "Blond Boys," "Cute Boys" and "Boys who say no," San Jose Police Lt. Scott Cornfield said.

Jack Schwartzmiller of Butte, Mont., said his cousin Dean lost contact with most of his relatives years ago. Dean Schwartzmiller has three brothers and a sister living in western Washington, but they could not be reached for comment.

"They knew he was in trouble all the time and they really had disassociated themselves of him," Jack Schwartzmiller said, calling his cousin "just a black sheep in the family."

Schwartzmiller's family knew he had legal troubles, but are likely "pretty surprised at the part that's coming out now," said his aunt, Shirlea Schwartzmiller of Edmonds.

Authorities said Dean Schwartzmiller apparently gained the trust of victims and parents by working as a home renovation contractor. Police in San Jose got involved after he allegedly befriended at least two boys in the city with gifts, invited them to his house for video games and movies, and molested them.

He was returned to California on June 7 to face molestation charges involving two 12-year-old boys.

Although police said Schwartzmiller appears to have spent much of the past 30 years in California, he has been arrested on child molestation charges in New York, Arkansas and Washington. He also served prison time in Idaho for child molestation in the late 1970s, and is wanted in Oregon on sexual assault charges involving a minor.

Police believe he may have victims in Brazil and Mexico, as well.

Posted by Nancy at 10:02 PM | Comments (0)