March 10, 2007
CNN to air sex-abuse documentary
by Ron Cassie
BALTIMORE - To Pat Goles, it was divine intervention.
His son Michael had faced the Baltimore Catholic community’s damnation after making sexual abuse charges in 1993 against popular Calvert Hall chaplain “Father Jeff” Toohey. Then, in 2004, his son, who remained troubled and unvindicated, got a phone call from a man only several blocks away in Atlanta. He had just come forth with similar allegations.
The second man, CNN Headline News anchor Thomas Roberts, was a previous Toohey victim. Roberts talks extensively on camera for the first time about the sexual abuse he suffered at Calvert Hall on “Anderson Cooper 360” Monday night.
In an hourlong segment, Roberts, 34, discusses the abuse — emotionally at times — which he said took place from 1987 to 1990. He reveals the struggle to overcome the psychological damage, including a suicide attempt, and the decision to ultimately come forward and press charges with Goles.
“It’s probably the worst place you can be in your life,” Roberts says at one point in a preview reviewed by The Examiner. “There’s shame. There’s self-hatred, self-doubt. Every mixed-up emotion you can have, and you don’t feel you can talk to anybody.”
Toohey pleaded guilty to abusing Roberts in February 2006 and was sentenced to five years in prison, but served less than 10 months before being released into home detention.
After his parents split up when he was in seventh grade, Roberts says he slowly withdrew, struggling in school and failing to get into the high school of his choice, Calvert Hall. His mother, Michelle, brought her son to Toohey for guidance. The priest got him a placement at the Towson private school.
Roberts kept his secret to himself for a decade and a half, even as Michael Goles was vilified publicly for his accusations.
“I still couldn’t stand up for this kid,” Roberts says.
But eventually he did, asking for Goles’ name and phone number from the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
And last year, both men testified in Annapolis in support of legislation that would extend the statute of limitations to file civil claims against sexual predators. That right ends when the victim turns 25. Senate Bill 575, introduced this year, would create a one-year window of opportunity for victims to file civil suits.
“The call from Thomas changed Michael’s life,” said Pat Goles, a Catholic deacon in Bel Air. “It changed both their lives. We believed Michael all along, but now they both knew someone else believed them, too, and understood what they had been through.”
December 02, 2006
My Dad Died Yesterday
This article has been edited with 2 words removed and will be back up soon.
November 07, 2005
Laveranues Coles - a survivor of sexual abuse
I say a big "Thank You" to Laveranues Coles !!
This is very helpful to male survivors of sexual abuse. Having a male come forward who has proven himself in a "macho" sport (and is admired by millions as a football star) gives men more freedom to let others know that they have been abused.
Abuse is tough on us girls - very tough. But I think it is even tougher on men. It's okay for us girls to cry and show emotion and people give sympathy. But it must be many times harder for men to speak up about this.
Having Laveranues come forward will be a huge breakthrough for many men.
Thank you, Laveranues !!
October 10, 2005
TWO FUGITIVES FROM "OPRAH'S CHILD PREDATOR WATCH LIST" CAPTURED!
Tune In to The Oprah Winfrey Show LIVE on Tuesday, October 11
CHICAGO, IL — Today, after hearing the exciting news of the capture of two child predators, just 48 hours after the launch of Oprah's Child Predator Watch List, Oprah said, "This is a great day and we're just getting started." On Tuesday, October 11, The Oprah Winfrey Show will broadcast live as Oprah presents the first $100,000 reward and shares the details of the tips, the big breaks and the captures of these fugitives.
On Tuesday, October 4, The Oprah Winfrey Show launched an initiative to highlight the stories of victims and survivors of child predator crimes. During that show, Oprah announced her pledge to provide a $100,000 reward per case to those individuals who the FBI says provided critical information leading to the capture and arrest of the fugitives featured on the show or its companion website Oprah.com. "With every breath in my body, and with you by my side, we are going to move heaven and earth to stop an evil that's been going on for far too long," said Oprah. "Before one more child lands in the headlines, we need to capture these criminals and put them away for good."
Oprah's Child Predator Watch List can be found online at
Contact Your Local FBI
Reward Rules and Instructions
Remembering the Victims
Protecting Your Children
What You Need to Know About Child Predators
How to Keep Your Children Safe
The Oprah Winfrey Show has remained the number one talk show for 19 consecutive seasons, winning every sweep since its debut in 1986.* It is produced in Chicago by Harpo Productions, Inc. and syndicated to 215 domestic markets and 115 countries by King World.
September 03, 2005
Judge says therapy-death jury can hear of previous abuse allegations
September 3, 2005
By The Associated Press
PROVO, Utah (AP) -- A judge has ruled that the jurors who will hear the case of a Springville couple accused of causing their 4-year-old daughter's death by forcing her to drink too much water may be told about previous allegations of child abuse.
Fourth District Court Judge Claudia Laycock ruled Thursday that the allegations cannot be used to prove guilt in this case but can be used to establish a pattern of behavior for the defendants, Richard and Jennete Killpack.
The Killpacks are charged with child-abuse homicide and child abuse in the 2002 death of their 4-year-old adopted daughter, Cassandra.
The allegations include testimony from the Killpacks' 7-year-old daughter that Jennete Killpack bound Cassandra's arms behind her with rope. In a separate incident, Jennete Killpack allegedly struck Cassandra on the head with a metal object, causing her to bleed.
Prosecutors say the Killpacks caused Cassandra's death by forcing her to drink excess amounts of water after she was caught stealing her older sister's drink.
The Killpacks have said they were following advice from therapists at the Cascade Center for Family Growth in Orem when they administered the punishment.
Therapists have denied issuing such advice.
Defense attorneys contend the couple did not act recklessly and were unaware that their actions could harm the child.
The Utah County Attorney's Office concluded that the Cascade Center and its therapists had no wrongdoing in the death of Cassandra Killpack.
Jury selection is set for Sept. 12
Information from: Deseret Morning News, http://www.deseretnews.com
June 17, 2005
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.
April 20, 2005
Four Bay Area victims receive $5.78 million in church abuse case
April 20, 2005 [Associated Press] By Lisa Leff
SAN FRANCISCO - A San Francisco jury on Wednesday awarded nearly $5.8 million in damages to four people who were repeatedly fondled as children by a Roman Catholic priest in San Jose.
The plaintiffs, three men and one woman, received $5.78 million total, ranging for $1.3 million to $1.58 million each, according to a spokesman for the Archdiocese of San Francisco. They had asked for a total of $20 million, while a lawyer for the archdiocese had suggested that $1 million in combined compensation was appropriate.
The archdiocese stipulated at the start of the 2 1/2-week trial that church officials knew in the 1970s that the Rev. Joseph Pritchard had been accused of molesting young parishioners but did not investigate the claims or take steps to protect the children.
As a result, the only question put to jurors was how much the plaintiffs, three men and one woman, should be compensated for psychological suffering and loss of productivity attributed to their abuse, said Larry Drivon, an attorney who represented one of the victims.
"The church was forced to admit that molestation had been occurring and they should have known what was occurring," Drivon said. "It was a historic concession on the part of the church."
During the trial, the plaintiffs testified that Pritchard, who died in 1988, had fondled them under their clothes, sometimes with other children or three other priests watching.
The verdict, reached after 16 hours of deliberation, came less than a month after another jury awarded $437,000 to another man who was molested by Pritchard when the late priest was assigned to St. Martin of Tours church in San Jose. In that case, which involved the first of 24 people who have sued the Archdiocese because of abuse allegedly committed by Pritchard, the jury had to find the church liable before awarding damages.
San Francisco Archbishop William J. Levada said in a statement Wednesday that the archdiocese has taken steps to make sure the kind of abuse now being litigated in the courts would never occur today.
"While the incidents of abuse in these lawsuits date back more than two decades ago, this fact does not lessen our vigilance today, nor diminish our concern for victims of past abuse," he said.
The consolidated cases decided Wednesday were the third of more than 750 lawsuits against Roman Catholic dioceses in California to go to trial since the state in 2002 temporarily lifted the statute of limitations for filing old sex-abuse claims. The action came as a response to the child molestation scandal involving Catholic priests nationwide.
Last week, an Oakland jury awarded $1.93 million to two brothers in their 30s who were molested as young boys by the Rev. Robert Ponciroli at St. Ignatius Catholic Church in Antioch. Ponciroli, 68, has been removed from public ministry and now lives in Florida.
April 15, 2005
Former detention officer sentenced in abuse case
April 15, 2005 [Associated Press]
ST. ANTHONY, Idaho A former employee of the Idaho Department of Juvenile Corrections will spend up to 15 years in prison for child sexual abuse.
Wayne Potter got the sentence after pleading guilty to a pair of felonies in February.
Potter must serve at least three years in prison before he's eligible for probation.
A five-year-old girl and a ten-year-old girl had accused him of abusing them.
The 47-year-old had worked as a rehabilitation specialist at the state Juvenile Correction Center in Saint Anthony (in southeast Idaho) at the time of his arrest.
The girls weren't connected to the facility.
April 07, 2005
News from the San Joaquin Valley
April 7, 2005 [Associated Press]
FRESNO, Calif. - A former radio and television personality has been convicted on 13 counts of child molestation.
Nicholas Fanady, 62, known as Nick Ryan to listeners, was convicted of sex crimes against three boys, including 11 counts against one boy who was 9 or 10 when the sexual abuse occurred.
Testimony from that victim, now 19, capped an emotional, two-and-a-half week trial.
"The community is much safer now," the young man said Wednesday after the verdicts were read. "I feel something like this will not happen again."
Fanady, who confessed on the witness stand to molesting one child and pleaded guilty to six misdemeanor counts of annoying or molesting young boys at a local park, faces at least 30 years in prison. Superior Court Judge William Kent Hamlin set a sentencing date of May 9.
Fanady was fired as co-host of the morning news program at KFSN Channel 30 nearly five years ago, when the mother of another boy said that Fanady and her son went skinny dipping, and the man touched the boy sexually.
Another incident occurred in May, when Fanady allegedly approached boys at a city park, put his hand around one and took him to a secluded area. Fanady said in court he was trying to move the boy away from a river.
Fanady most recently worked for KMPH, a local radio news station, until his arrest last year.
Remembing Victims Of Child Abuse
April 7, 2005
The community of Levelland, Texas remembered victims of child abuse Thursday night with a candlelight ceremony.
The audience blew out a candle as the name of a victim was read, until the entire room was dark.
Levelland Mayor Hugh Bradley stated that the City is honoring Child Abuse Prevention during this month of April.
April 05, 2005
Former priest pleads innocent to child rape charges
April 5, 2005 [Associated Press]
BOSTON— A defrocked Catholic priest pleaded innocent to child rape charges Tuesday in Suffolk Superior Court and was released on $5,000 bail.
Robert Burns, 56, of Concord, N.H., is charged with six counts of rape of a child under 16, and seven counts of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14.
Prosecutors said Burns molested five boys while he was assigned to parishes in the Jamaica Plain and Charlestown sections of Boston between the mid-1980s and early 90s
Burns was convicted in 1996 of indecent assault of a child and was imprisoned for three years in New Hampshire. He was defrocked in 1999.
As conditions of his bail, Burns was ordered to have no unsupervised contact with children, report to a probation officer every week, and to surrender a passport if he has one, according to the Suffolk County district attorney's office.
Burns must return to court May 17 for a pretrial hearing.
The alleged abuse occurred while Burns was a priest assigned to St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Jamaica Plain and St. Mary's in Charlestown.
Church abuse play wins Pulitzer
April 5, 2005
A play about child abuse in the Roman Catholic Church has been awarded the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for drama.
Doubt, by Oscar-winning writer John Patrick Shanley, won the prize just two days after the death of the Pope.
The play is about a priest accused of molesting a boy. It comes after a damaging scandal in the US Catholic Church that implicated 4,000 priests.
In other Pulitzer awards, Marilynne Robinson won the fiction prize and Ted Kooser picked up the poetry accolade.
Mr Shanley won an Academy Award for writing the screenplay for Moonstruck, starring Cher, in 1988.
Stars including Harvey Keitel and David Hasselhoff turned up when Doubt opened on Broadway last week after an acclaimed off-Broadway run.
Set in 1964 in The Bronx, where Mr Shanley grew up, it sees a nun confront a well-liked parish priest who she believes is abusing a 12-year-old boy.
"The play very much relates to religion," he said. "And the parable is a key way of talking about issues, ideas and moralities."
Last year, a report commissioned by the Church said more than 4,000 US Roman Catholic priests had faced sexual abuse allegations in the last 50 years in cases involving more than 10,000 children, mostly boys.
In the Pulitzer fiction category, Marilynne Robinson triumphed for Gilead, her National Book Critics Circle-winning novel about a dying Iowa preacher.
US poet laureate Ted Kooser won the poetry prize for Delights and Shadows, while composer Steven Stucky picked up the music award for Second Concerto for Orchestra.
Other awards in the arts section were won by non-fiction books by David Hackett Fischer, Mark Stevens, Annalyn Swan and Steve Coll.
In the journalism section, the Los Angeles Times won the public service award for its expose of deadly medical problems and racial injustice at an inner-city hospital.
The paper won another award for international reporting for its coverage of Russia, while The Wall Street Journal also picked up two prizes.
April 04, 2005
Carroll County child advocacy group gets grant
April 4, 2005 [Citizen Online]
OSSIPEE — The New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office has awarded a $50,000 grant to fund the start-up of the Child Advocacy Center of Carroll County (CACCC) an established non-profit group whose mission is to serve children who are victims of sexual and physical abuse and their non-offending family members.
"Child Advocacy Centers effectively reduce trauma and stress experienced by children, and bring together professionals and agencies as a team — a multi-disciplinary team, to create a child-focused approach to child abuse cases," said Karen Hebert, Victim/Witness Coordinator for the Carroll County Attorney’s Office. No other agency focuses solely on the needs of the child. The Child Advocacy Center does just that.
The CAC is a proven model, using a holistic approach that brings together law enforcement, child advocates, mental health providers, medical professionals, child protection social workers and prosecutors to investigate and assess allegations of child abuse.
When a child is suspected of being abused the CAC will coordinate all agencies that need to participate in the planned investigation and assessment of that child’s case. The CAC will be a child-friendly setting that is physically and psychologically safe for children, where a person trained in forensic interviewing techniques would interview the child. The interviewing process uses the latest techniques and technologies to preserve the most accurate account of information from that child. The CAC tracks each child’s case, finding appropriate resources and referrals for the individual needs of that child. Services come at no cost to families and agencies. The need for updating the methods used by agencies to conduct investigation and assessments can be seen in recent data.
From 2001-2003 the N.H. Division of Children, Youth and Families Conway District Office received 957 referrals of neglect, physical abuse, mental abuse and sexual abuse. Each referral can have more than one allegation. This number does not include every out-of-home perpetrator referral, as this data is not maintained. The Carroll County Attorney’s Office received 113 referrals from law enforcement for prosecution during the same three-year period. Forty child abuse related convictions were obtained.
Establishing a CAC in Carroll County is part of a statewide initiative to respond to the individual needs of child victims and their families. In October of 2003, the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office organized and supported the initiative with the assistance of the National Children’s Alliance. Each county in the state was provided with the opportunity for support and technical assistance to create an individual model to fit specific geographical and financial needs.
Professionals from Carroll County took that opportunity with the initial establishment of a steering committee that drafting the working model. A group of volunteers that believe in the CAC concept and saw the need for such an organization in Carroll County has since taken the next step.
Moultonborough Chief of Police Scott Kinmond was elected to serve as the president of the Board of Directors.
Other members of the board are David Tower CEO at Huggins Hospital serving as vice president; James Calomb, CPA of North Conway serving as treasurer, Bea Lewis-Wheeler of Meredith as clerk; Chris Coulter, general manager of Bald Peak Colony Club; Lt. Ken Fifield, of the Wakefield Police Department, Joan Davies of Jackson; Attorney Teresa Mahoney Mullen of Meredith; Justine Oktavec, supervisor of the Division for Children Youth and Families Conway District Office; Nancy Spencer Smith of Wakefield, and Liz Sweeney of Alton.
In addition to funds from the AG’s Office the CAC has also received a $2,500 grant award from the Carroll County Commissioner’s County Incentive Funds. The money will be used to hire a full-time program administrator and pay for support services, training, rent, equipment, start-up costs and outreach materials.
As a result of the grant award the Board of Directors is now actively seeking its first full-time program administrator and will be accepting resumes until April 1. The board’s goal is to complete the hiring process by late spring and begin operations by summer. The CAC has garnered the support of the Carroll County Association of Chiefs of Police, which have unanimously endorsed the concept of a CAC and agreed to serve as their fiscal agent through its developmental stage. Carroll County Attorney Robin Gordon fully supports the initiative and looks forward to the use of enhanced methods to investigate child abuse cases.
"We see the pain and fear in children’s eyes who have to endure multiple interviews, then often a physical examination and later a court trial. Having all agencies come to the same table with a CAC, we will have better continuity, consistency and success for prosecution of these cases," said Chief Kinmond.
"Carroll County Mental Health supports the development of the Child Advocacy Center and is very happy to be a partner in this process. Many of the children with whom we work will be positively impacted by the coordinator of information and care that is necessary at times when the children may be experiencing significant difficulty in their lives," said Laurie Brodeur CCMH director.
Development of the CAC in Carroll County has already come with training at no cost. In December of 2004, a team of eight professionals from Carroll County from law enforcement, child protective services, the mental health profession, the medical profession, victim advocacy and prosecution, attended a week-long training in
Portsmouth entitled Child Abuse and Exploitation Team Investigative Process, sponsored by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and Fox Valley Technical College. In March 2005, two police officers and one child protection worker from Carroll County were selected and sponsored by their agencies to attend the Childhood Trust Forensic Interviewer Training sponsored by the New Hampshire Network of Child Advocacy Centers and the N.H. Attorney General’s Task Force on Child Abuse & Neglect.
Detective Jill Barbour of the Conway Police Department; Detective Scott Moore of the Wolfeboro Police Department and Lisa Dekutoski, a child protection social worker based in Conway, all attended the week-long training held in Concord.
The CACCC is currently filing for status as a tax-exempt charity in an effort to enhance their abilities to receiving donations and gifts. Anyone interested in learning more about the CACCC can contact Chief Scott Kinmond at the Moultonborough Police Department at 476-2400. Donations can be sent to the Child Advocacy Center of Carroll County at P.O. Box 218, Ossipee, N.H. 03864
April 02, 2005
Fort Worth Diocese agrees to pay $1.4 million in abuse case
April 2, 2005 [Associated Press]
A Texas man who alleged that a priest now living in Massachusetts molested him when he was a minor will be paid $1.4 million by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth, court records indicate.
Details of the out-of-court settlement were included in court documents filed last week, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported Saturday.
The lawsuit against the dioceses of Fort Worth and Worcester, Mass., contended that Fort Worth Bishop Joseph P. Delaney knew that the Rev. Thomas Teczar posed a threat to children because of a "sexual interest" in adolescents, according to court documents.
Before moving to the Fort Worth area, Teczar had worked as a priest in the Worcester Diocese, where he was forced out after being accused of inappropriate behavior with a teenage boy.
Diocese spokesman Jeff Hensley declined to comment Friday and said Delaney could not speak because he was ill.
As part of the lawsuit, Delaney gave a deposition in which he said he was aware of the allegations against Teczar before bringing him to Fort Worth and that Teczar had admitted to Delaney his sexual feelings for adolescent boys.
Teczar worked at parishes in Fort Worth, Bedford and Ranger from the late 1980s until 1993, court documents state. A man who answered the phone at Teczar´s home in Dudley, Mass., declined to comment. Teczar is no longer practicing as a priest.
In February, Teczar denied the allegations in a telephone interview with the Telegram & Gazette of Worcester.
Daniel J. Shea of Houston, an attorney representing the man who says Teczar molested him, said the size of the settlement is commensurate with the damage done to his client. His client is identified by the name John Doe in court filings.
"Bishop Delaney was gracious and apologetic," Shea said. "I think they were sincere. And a measure of sincerity is when you put your money where your mouth is."
The lawsuit alleged that Teczar groped and raped two minor boys beginning in the early 1990s when he was serving as parish priest in Ranger, which is part of the Fort Worth Diocese.
Since its founding in 1969, the Fort Worth Diocese has settled one other sexual abuse case for $12,500. Shea said that some or all of the $1.4 million settlement could be paid by the church´s insurance.
Shea said he believes that the Fort Worth Diocese is responsible for the entire settlement amount. A report published in the Worcester newspaper quoted Worcester Bishop Robert J. McManus as saying that his diocese will not pay any of the settlement because it had no responsibility for Teczar.
Raymond Delisle, spokesman for the Worcester Diocese, could not be reached for comment.
The dioceses and Teczar are still being sued by another Texas man who was part of the lawsuit. His part of the case is pending in a Fort Worth court.
Teczar has been charged in Eastland County with one count of aggravated sexual assault of a child, three counts of sexual assault and one count of indecency with a child with sexual contact, according to the Eastland County Sheriff´s Department. Teczar said last year that he did not abuse anyone and that the church is a target because it has money.
April 01, 2005
Jury told of Jackson 'past abuse'
April 1, 2005 [BBC News]
Jurors in the Michael Jackson trial have heard for the first time about previous claims of child abuse against the singer from a key witness.
Larry Feldman, a lawyer who also represents the current accuser, spoke about a 1993 out-of-court payment made by Mr Jackson to an alleged victim.
But the court also heard investigators who had tested the star's bedsheets had found no DNA from his current accuser.
The star denies 10 charges, including child abuse and false imprisonment.
Also in court on Friday, an investigator defended the search of the singer's ranch.
Sgt Jeff Klapackis of Santa Barbara county sheriff's office answered claims by the defence that the 2003 search was overdone because Mr Jackson was a celebrity, saying that there was a high concentration of officers because they were only given one day to cover the whole ranch.
He also said it was unlikely his department had leaked news of the search to the press.
But he added that no traces of DNA from the current accuser, Gavin Arvizo, had been found in Michael Jackson's bed.
Both the accuser and his brother have claimed that they frequently slept in the bed.
'No lawsuit intended'
The judge had ruled on Monday that the jury could hear about five more boys the prosecution claim were sexually abused by the star.
Mr Feldman did not say how much the 1993 alleged victim had received in an out-of-court settlement, but said the matter had been "resolved in his favour".
Turning to the current case, he said the Arvizo family sought legal advice from him before alerting the authorities to abuse claims.
But the lawyer said he did not intend to file a civil lawsuit against Mr Jackson at that time.
He referred the family to psychologist Stan Katz, and then called prosecutors who later brought charges against the accused.
Mr Katz gave evidence in the trial earlier this week.
The psychologist also interviewed the 1993 alleged victim, and may be recalled to give further evidence when prosecutors start presenting testimony about previous allegations in three days' time.
March 30, 2005
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.
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.
March 29, 2005
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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."
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.
March 05, 2005
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.'
March 04, 2005
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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
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.
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:
For tips on keeping your children safe while they're online, visit the websites below:
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
Virginia Attorney General 'Safe Surfing' Website for Kids
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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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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."
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.
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.
"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.
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.
"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.
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
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.
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.
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
♦Medical neglect: 4
♦Other or undetermined: 10
Source: Indiana Department of Child Services
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
February 06, 2005
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
February 01, 2005
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."
January 29, 2005
Wife of accuser testifies in ex-priest's abuse trial
Jan. 29, 2005 [Associated Press]
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - The wife of a man who has accused defrocked priest Paul Shanley of raping him as a child testified Friday that he had night sweats and curled up in the fetal position on the floor after recovering memories of the abuse.
The woman took the witness stand after her husband finished more than 10 hours of testimony over three days, much of it under grueling and graphic cross-examination by Shanley's attorney.
The man returned to the stand Friday morning despite begging the judge a day earlier to spare him further questioning. That had raised the possibility that the case would collapse, because he is the lone accuser of Shanley, 74, one of the central figures in the Boston Archdiocese's clergy sex-abuse scandal. Three other accusers were dropped from the case by prosecutors.
The accuser, now a 27-year-old firefighter, says Shanley raped and molested him at a Newton parish beginning when he was 6. He says he didn't remember the abuse until early 2002, when he heard a friend's account of being abused as a boy by Shanley.
His wife testified that he became distraught during a phone conversation when she told him about a newspaper article in which the friend told of the alleged abuse. She was living near Boston at the time, and her then-boyfriend was serving at an Air Force base in Colorado.
"He said he was going to be sick, he had to go, he couldn't talk," she said.
She said he returned to Massachusetts four days later. On the first night of his visit, she said, he became upset again.
"He woke up. He was very agitated and restless. He had soaked the sheets with sweat," she said, her voice cracking. "He got on the floor, curled up in a ball. He shook."
"I tried to hold him, but he wouldn't let me," she said.
Earlier, Shanley's attorney Frank Mondano grilled the accuser about his troubled childhood, his abuse of alcohol and steroids, his gambling habit and his motivation for coming forward.
Mondano has said that the man made up his story to cash in on the multimillion-dollar settlements to victims of the Boston scandal. He has also said he will call expert witnesses to debunk the science behind repressed memories.
The trial is expected to resume Monday.
January 28, 2005
Judge rules that child accuser must face Michael Jackson in court
January 28, 2005 [Associated Press]
SANTA MARIA, United States (AFP) - The teenage boy who accused pop icon Michael Jackson of child abuse must face the superstar in open court, a judge ruled.
Judge Rodney Melville made the critical decision over prosecutors' objections in the last pre-trial hearing ahead of Monday's official start of the trial of one of the most famous people ever to face justice on such serious criminal charges.
But while ruling that the 15-year-old alleged victim and his 14-year-old brother must testify in open court instead of from behind closed doors, Melville warned he would not tolerate any intimidation of the children.
"Whether I keep an open courtroom will depend on what happens during their testimony," Melville said, warning he would tolerate no "hand gestures, mutterings" or any other expressions towards the children from the gallery.
"It is critical there be no disruption in their testimony," he told the rival lawyers in the case after Jackson's lawyers won their bid to force the boys to testify in open court.
The boy alleged to authorities that Jackson had sexually molested him on several occasions in early 2003 at Neverland Ranch, near the California town of Santa Maria where the legal proceedings are taking place.
Prosecutors claim in their charges against the pop star that the boy's younger brother witnessed two of the alleged incidents and will call both boys to testify about the alleged incidents.
Prosecutors had moved to shield the boys from the glare of publicity when they take the witness stand, but Jackson's attorneys said it was unfair for the accusers to give evidence via an audio feed from a closed room while Jackson, 46, had to face the world's scrutiny.
Prosecutor Gordon Auchincloss told Melville that the boys would be stigmatised and shamed by their testimony if it was given in front of the press and public.
He said the brothers and their family already changed their schools, their names and had been forced to "hide out" since their intimate allegations first made world headlines in November 2003.
"The shame involved in a child consenting to these acts is unbelievable, Auchincloss said, claiming Jackson had bought the boys' silence through gifts and other alleged wiles.
"To anyone who thinks we should put these young boys in the path of this train, I ask how would you feel if it was your child?" he said.
But Jackson's chief lawyer Thomas Mesereau disputed the portrayal of the boys as being vulnerable victims in need of the court's protection, suggesting that the motive for the claims against Jackson was financial.
"They are in their mid-teens and are not tiny little children. They are not the little lambs the prosecutor says they are," Mesereau said rebuffing Auchincloss's argument.
He stressed that every aspect of Jackson's life had come under scrutiny since his November 2003 arrest, so it was fair that those who first made the claims against the singer should be made to do so in public.
"At least let Michael Jackson, who is on trial in a public proceeding, confront his accusers in a public proceeding," Mesereau told the judge.
Jackson has denied 10 charges, including child molestation and an alleged plot to kidnap and falsely imprison the boy and his family. His trial starts with jury selection on Monday.
Child Abuse Victims Advocate Steele Dies
January 28, 2005 [Associated Press]
DENVER - Dr. Brandt F. Steele, a psychiatrist who helped pioneer the treatment of child abuse victims and coined the term "battered child," died Jan. 19. He was 97
In a 1962 paper, Steele and longtime associate Dr. C. Henry Kempe, a pediatrician, became the first to detail the physical and psychological symptoms of child abuse by parents, dubbing the result "battered child syndrome."
The paper was pronounced one of the 20th century's 50 most important medical contributions by The Journal of the American Medical Association.
Steele and Kempe also were first to document that abusers themselves often were childhood victims of abuse and neglect.
Steele grew up in Indiana, attended Indiana University and studied under Alfred Kinsey, who later became famous for his research on sexuality.
He later joined the faculty of the University of Colorado Medical School.
January 27, 2005
Lawyer for accused priest challenges man's claim
In cross-examination, accuser says his life spiraled downward
Janaury 27, 2005 [Associated Press]
CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts (AP) -- The lawyer for defrocked priest Paul Shanley sought to undermine the credibility of his accuser Thursday, grilling the man under cross-examination about his troubled childhood, abuse of alcohol and steroids, and gambling.
The man testified for a second day of Shanley's rape trial, one of the few cases in which prosecutors have been able to bring charges against priests accused of molesting boys decades ago.
The man, now a 27-year-old firefighter, is the lone accuser remaining in the case. He says Shanley raped and molested him at a Newton parish over a period of six years, beginning when he was 6.
He says he didn't recover memories of the abuse until early 2002, when he heard a friend's account of being abused as a boy by Shanley, one of the central figures in the Boston Archdiocese's clergy sex abuse scandal.
But Shanley's lawyer, Frank Mondano, has implied that the man's account was tailored to conform to those of three other alleged victims who were dropped from the case by prosecutors.
The accuser said his mother left him when he was 3 years old, and his father beat him. Under a barrage of questions from Mondano, he also acknowledged that he drank heavily and abused steroids for eight years starting when he was 16. He also said he gambled away hundreds of dollars at a time.
He blamed his steroid use on Shanley, saying the sexual abuse caused him to develop a "poor self-image."
Steroids "just made me feel better about myself," said the accuser, who said he once smuggled steroids across the border from Mexico. "I just thought I looked better."
Plaintiffs in the hundreds of lawsuits filed over the clergy sex abuse scandal have made similar claims that they spiraled into lives of drug abuse and depression after being molested by Roman Catholic priests.
Mondano challenged claims the man made his lawsuit, which he settled with the archdiocese last year for $500,000. In it, the man blamed Shanley for his difficulty maintaining relationships and for his failure to realize his dream of playing major league baseball.
"This, too, you blame on Paul Shanley?" Mondano asked.
"Absolutely," the accuser said.
Mondano has said the man made up his story to cash in on the multimillion-dollar settlements paid to victims of the Boston scandal.
The man testified Wednesday that Shanley would pull him from Sunday morning catechism classes at St. Jean's parish and sexually abuse him in the church pews, confessional, rectory and bathroom. He said the abuse began when he was 6 and continued until 1989, when he was 12.
"He'd unzip my pants," the accuser said. "Sometimes he would kneel down and try to teach me how to perform oral sex."
Shanley faces three charges of raping a child and two charges of indecent assault and battery on a child. He could get life in prison if convicted.
His case became one of the most notorious in the abuse scandal because personnel records released by the archdiocese showed that church officials knew Shanley publicly advocated sex between men and boys, yet continued to transfer him from parish to parish.
The case hinges on the concept of repressed memory, in which past experiences are suppressed in the subconscious until a trigger brings them back.
Shanley's accuser said the scandal in Boston triggered his 20-year-old memories of being molested. But Mondano has questioned the timing and validity of those memories and said he would call expert witnesses to debunk the science behind repressed memories.
Most of the priests accused in hundreds of civil lawsuits avoided prosecution because the alleged crimes were committed so long ago that charges were barred by the statute of limitations. But because Shanley moved out of Massachusetts, the clock stopped. He was arrested in California in 2002.
Panel rules priest sex abuse suits filed late
Lawyer will appeal Schuylkill judges' dismissal of two cases against Allentown Diocese.
January 27, 2005 [The Morning Call] By Chris Parker
A panel of Schuylkill County judges has dismissed two child molestation lawsuits against the Allentown Catholic Diocese, saying the alleged victims waited too long to file their claims of priest sexual abuse.
Though the judges found the diocese's failure to protect its young parishioners ''shocking and irresponsible,'' they said the men's claim that they were harmed again in 2002 when they learned the diocese had transferred some abusive priests to other communities wasn't an issue.
The cases only concerned the statute of limitations, the judges said.
A lawyer for the two men plans to appeal the ruling to the state Superior Court, which has scheduled a Feb. 16 hearing to determine the course of similar suits across Pennsylvania.
Superior Court rebuffed the diocese last fall, refusing to hear arguments that Lehigh County lawsuits alleging sexual abuse shouldn't be allowed to proceed because the statute of limitations for filing them had expired.
The panel of six Schuylkill judges, without dissension, ruled in identical 22-page opinions Tuesday that Vincent Catizone Jr. of Girardville and Scott Greis of Schuylkill County waited too long — more than 20 years — to file their suits.
Their attorney, Jay N. Abramowitch of Wyomissing, near Reading, and colleague Richard Serbin of Altoona sued the diocese and Bishop Edward P. Cullen and retired Bishop Thomas J. Welsh because the two-year statute of limitations against individual priests had passed.
The Schuylkill cases involve the Rev. Francis J. McNelis, who retired in 2002 and is living in Holy Family Villa in Bethlehem, and the late Monsignor William E. Jones, a former pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Church, Minersville.
''We are disappointed in the finding,'' Abramowitch said.
Greis and Catizone couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday.
Diocese attorney Joseph F. Leeson Jr. of Bethlehem, noting that none of the judges dissented, called their opinions ''strong and emphatic. … I think they are scholarly and well-reasoned opinions that are based on the law.''
Each of the two suits, filed in January 2004, consists of 12 counts and seeks monetary awards of more than $50,000 for each count.
The Schuylkill panel agreed with the diocese that the two-year deadline to file a civil lawsuit seeking money for injuries had elapsed. The alleged incidents began in 1966 for Greis, then 10, and in 1978 for Catizone, then 14.
The panel ruled that the statute ''has been consistently applied to other cases in Pennsylvania'' and dismissed the claims.
Catizone and Greis also alleged in their suits that the diocese and bishops had a duty to report the abuse, according to 1994 legislation that requires clergy to report sexual abuse.
The panel ruled that the law could not be applied retroactively.
''At the time of the events at issue, members of the clergy were not responsible under the [law] to report suspicions of child abuse,'' the panel ruled.
When the Schuylkill judges heard arguments in October, Abramowitch said his clients didn't discover until 2002, through the media, that the diocese had harmed them by hiding incidents of sexual abuse, and that is when the two-year period started.
Leeson said the fact a wrongdoing was publicly disclosed has no legal bearing on incidents that happened many years ago.
The suits also alleged that Greis and Catizone were harmed again in April 2002, ''when the Catholic Church revealed it had a policy of relocating sexually abusive priests to other communities, and that the church chose not to report these incidents to the police because, at the time, the law did not require it.''
The transfer of priests known to have molested children was not an issue in Greis' and Catizone's cases, the judges said, ''however shocking and irresponsible we may consider the diocese's failure to protect its child parishioners.''
Serving on the Schuylkill panel were President Judge William Baldwin and Judges Jacqueline Russell, E. Michael Stine, Cyrus Palmer Dolbin, John Domalakes and Charles M. Miller.
Catizone, who was 10 in 1966 when McNelis allegedly began to abuse him, was an altar boy and parishioner at St. Joseph's in Girardville, according to his suit.
The suit says McNelis performed sex acts on Catizone in his bedroom, his car, the rectory garage and other rooms in the rectory, and that the abuse continued for two to three years until Catizone was 13.
Greis alleges Jones fondled him and performed oral sex on him on numerous occasions beginning in 1978. Once, the suit says, Jones and another priest performed oral sex on Greis and several other boys on a trip to Jones' home in Tower City. Jones died in May.
Six similar cases, also filed by Abramowitch and Serbin, are pending in Lehigh County Court. Last June, three Lehigh judges declined to dismiss the suits.
In November, Superior Court chose not to hear the diocese's arguments that the Lehigh County lawsuits shouldn't be allowed to proceed. The court rejected the diocese's appeal of that decision, Leeson said.
At the hearing next month, Superior Court will consider appeals in similar cases stemming from a Philadelphia case, Abramowitch said.
''That ruling would be binding on cases in all the counties,'' he said.
In Philadelphia, a county judge threw out priest sexual abuse suits filed against the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, saying the statute of limitations had expired.
Three insurance firms sue LA Catholic bishop over child sex abuse deals
January 27, 2005 [Agence France Presse]
LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Three insurance firms have sued the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, accusing its leader of refusing to share information about alleged priestly sex abuse, a report said.
The companies have asked a judge to order Cardinal Roger Mahony to provide documents that could be used to relieve them of liability stemming from allegations by more than 535 people since the 1930s, according to the Los Angeles Times.
"For whatever reasons, the archbishop's apparent goal is to obviate any meaningful disclosure of the facts and circumstances of these claims, and yet to pressure (the insurers) to contribute enormous sums of money" to settle the cases, according to the lawsuit.
The 12-page complaint was filed by three members of American International Group Inc.: Insurance Co. of the State of Pennsylvania, Granite State Insurance Co. and American Home Assurance Co.
The three companies provided coverage for the church in the 1970s.
More than one billion dollars in damages could be assessed against the church, the insurance companies stated in the lawsuit, according to the Times.
"They have full access to the files," responded Mahony's lead lawyer, J. Michael Hennigan, according to the Times. "They are supposed to be on our side."
US Roman Catholic dioceses have seen their finances hit hard by waves of sexual abuse lawsuits filed against them since the child sex scandal broke in Boston, Massachusetts, in early 2002.
Three dioceses -- Spokane in Washington state, Portland in Oregon and Tucson in Arizona -- have filed for bankruptcy, while the Los Angeles area Diocese of Orange in December struck a record 100-million-dollar settlement deal with 87 alleged victims of its priests.
January 26, 2005
Bill Would Require Religious Leaders Report Child Abuse
January 26, 2005 [Associated Press]
Religious leaders would have to report suspected child abuse under a bill that was reintroduced Wednesday.
The legislation passed the Senate last year but died in a House committee after fundamentalist religious groups argued that it established a church and state relationship.
"We had some evangelical ministers who felt they had a separation of church and state issue, and some that had told me that they preach from the pulpit that parents should reprimand and punish their children and they didn't want to come back the following week and report them for child abuse," said Sen. Robert Spada, a northern Ohio Republican who proposed the bill.
The bill, which is essentially unchanged from last year, would not apply to the "sacred trust" of a confession or to something said confidentially to a minister.
Other religious groups, including Roman Catholics and Methodists, supported the bill last year. Doctors, teachers and other professionals are required to report abuse.
New centres to help abuse victims
January 26, 2005 [East Anglican Daily Times]
By Dave Gooderham
VULNERABLE victims of child abuse and domestic violence are set to receive vital support and information from a new specialist care centre.
Offering help to victims and witnesses of crime, the Victim Care Centre in Bury St Edmunds was launched yesterday and will be swiftly followed by similar units in Lowestoft and Ipswich costing almost £2 million.
Police said the centres would further improve the service offered to victims with specialist officers and staff on hand to help those who have suffered domestic violence or sex attacks.
Pc Rebecca Stocking, victim care officer, said: “Domestic violence blights so many lives and I hope that my work helps some victims recover from its effects and take positive steps forward.
“Every case is different - and you never get used to dealing with the effects of domestic violence and seeing how it saps victims' self-esteem.
“Our aim is to put victims in a position where they can make positive life choices for themselves and the greatest satisfaction comes from seeing these people get their lives back on track.”
The centre features three fully-equipped video interview rooms, a medical examination suite and a conference room.
Detective Constable Chris Murton, child protection team officer, who will investigate and support victims of child abuse, said: “In this job, we deal with extremely sensitive cases and you need to be both diplomatic and open-minded at all times.
“The crucial thing is establishing a rapport with the child. This may not be easy as they can be downtrodden and suppressed because of their experiences - and extremely wary of adults.
“It is a challenging job, but extremely rewarding to be part of a team which helps these children escape from those who abuse them.”
The centre, part funded by a £500,000 Home Office grant, will run in conjunction with Suffolk Victim Support.
Area manager John Doylend said: “It's an extremely positive step forward and can only help provide a better service to victims and witnesses.
“Our work complements that of the police and I am very pleased that Suffolk Constabulary is placing a greater emphasis on care and support for those affected by crime.”
Detective Superintendent Stewart Gull, of Suffolk police, said they were committed to taking a lead in providing a quality service to all victims of crime.
“The new centres will provide 24-hour specialist support and care for the most vulnerable in our communities.
“Our new centres will provide immediate specialist help and support to those who need it, helping them recover from their ordeal, while at the same time assisting police in tracing those responsible for their suffering.”
Documentary: "After School"
Documentary film: A study of the growing and disturbing trend of teachers having sex with their students.
Months after the tragedy, Owen Lafave, her husband of less than one year, wants answers. He has teamed up with a documentary crew to narrate and explore the truth and reasons behind the rise in cases of child molestation by teachers in our schools.
“After School” is a disturbing look at a plague affecting our families and, more importantly, our children.
For more information visit: After School
January 25, 2005
Minister arrested, charged with child molestation
January 25, 2005 [Associated Press]
LAWRENCEVILLE, GA (AP) -- Gwinnett County police have charged a 57-year-old minister with child molestation.
Nathan Clement Ridgeway of Duluth is charged with one count of aggravated sexual battery and one count of aggravated child molestation.
The investigation involves a three-year-old family member who was at the suspect's residence.
Ridgeway is a pastor of a non-denominational church in Norcross -- Faith Life Fellowship. He also runs and works at a day care center, which operates out of that church.
Investigations say there are NO allegations of abuse involving anyone from the church or day care center.
Authorities arrested Ridgeway on Friday.
School 'mismanaged' abuse probe
A government report into allegations of sexual abuse against young boys at a Belfast boarding school is highly critical of the school's response.
January 25, 2005 [BBC News]
The report, published by the Department of Education on Tuesday, catalogued a history of mismanagement.
The abuse took place in 1992 and 1993 and was carried out by one pupil at Cabin Hill preparatory boarding school.
The report said a lack of action may have harmed both the boys abused and the young abuser.
The fee-paying preparatory school on the Newtownards Road in east Belfast closed its boarding department in October 2004.
Education Minister Barry Gardiner said: "The report does not make comfortable reading and provides all who have a duty to safeguard and promote children's welfare with much to reflect on."
The inquiry team, appointed by the Department of Education last September, found there were multiple instances of serious sexual abuse affecting at least six boys.
It found that one boy, who was acting as a dormitory prefect, carried out indecent assaults on fellow pupils until he was forced by other boys to confess to the headmaster at the time.
The boy said to have carried out the abuse was formally cautioned by the police in 2002.
However, it was the school's handling of the matter which has been criticised by the report's authors.
Only a very few people were told about it, in what the report team called an inadequate response.
It said that not only should the assaulted boys have been given help, but also the perpetrator, who left the school soon after the discovery of his actions.
The incidents were not made public until May 1999.
The board of governors of Campbell College, which runs the Cabin Hill preparatory school, has acknowledged the criticism of its handling of the incidents of sexual abuse.
It said it regretted the distress of pupils which had come to light as a result of this inquiry.
However, the report said that even as late as last year, a board of governors' response to press enquiries was said to be erroneous and misleading.
The three-strong team appointed last September to examine the allegations were the former Senior Chief Inspector of Education in Scotland, Douglas Osler, the former director of the NSPCC in Northern Ireland, Lynne Peyton, and the former principal of Dalriada School, Ballymena, William Calvert.
The team looked at what child protection measures were in place at the time and the extent of the abuse.
The inquiry was held in private.
Prosecutors detail abuse of young boy by defrocked priest
January 25, 2005 [Associated Press]
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. "If you tell, no one will believe you."
Prosecutors say that's what a former priest told his young victim to keep him quiet during years of sexual abuse. Opening statements began today in Massachusetts in the trial of Paul Shanley, charged with rape and indecent assault on a child.
Prosecutors say the boy didn't tell anyone -- for nearly 20 years. They say Shanley raped the boy repeatedly at his church, sometimes in the church bathroom, or in the church confessional.
They described how the priest would summon the six-year-old boy to the rectory to play cards. Then they quote Shanley as saying, "You lose, take off your clothes."
Shanley's defense maintains such charges have been concocted in order to bring a lawsuit.
If convicted of rape and other charges, Shanley -- who turns 74 years old today -- could face life in prison.
Coalition pledges mandatory abuse reports
January 25, 2005 [Sunday Times] By Amanda Banks
Australia - DOCTORS, nurses, teachers and child welfare workers will be forced to report child abuse under a Coalition plan to bring Western Australia into line with the rest of the nation on mandatory reporting.
Opposition Leader Colin Barnett yesterday unveiled details of the plan, announced by the Liberal Party in June.
The mandatory reporting plan, estimated to cost $15 million a year, is part of the Coalition's first comprehensive policy launch.
The children's policy - which contains initiatives worth $83.5 million - also includes establishing an Office for the Commissioner for Children at a cost of $5 million a year; a $1 million commitment to match local community funding to improve playgrounds; $1.5 million to set up a children's card to provide police clearance for people who work with children; stricter classifications guidelines for children's media; and $750,000 for child injury prevention.
Flanked by Opposition spokeswoman for children Barbara Scott, Mr Barnett said professionals would be trained to ensure they could identify child abuse.
"WA is the only state in this country that does not require mandatory reporting of abuse against children," he said. "It's not about a penalty system, it's just creating a clear statutory obligation on professionals in the area. Let's face it, this is about protecting kids."
Mr Barnett did not give details about the penalties for those who breached the statutory obligation to report suspected abuse or neglect.
The Gallop Government has previously rejected mandatory reporting after a report by the University of Western Australia found such laws throughout the world were in chaos and said there was no evidence compulsory reporting was effective in protecting children.
Opening Statements Delivered Clergy Sex Abuse Trial
Defrocked Priest Charged With Child Rape
January 25, 2005 [Associated Press]
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Opening statements were to be delivered Tuesday in the child rape case against defrocked priest Paul Shanley, one of the most notorious figures in the clergy sex abuse scandal that engulfed the Boston Archdiocese.
The case that first involved allegations related to four alleged victims has since been whittled down to a single man who claims he was raped in the 1980s by Shanley when he was a priest at St. Jean's parish in Newton.
A jury of eight men and eight women will consider the case, which is expected to last about two weeks in Middlesex Superior Court.
Shanley faces three charges of raping a child and two charges of indecent assault and battery on a child. The maximum sentence would be life in prison.
Prosecutors said they planned to call New Hampshire bishop John McCormack to the stand Tuesday as one of their first witnesses. McCormack investigated allegations of sexual misconduct as a former lieutenant to Boston's Cardinal Bernard Law and was expected to testify about Shanley's employment history with the archdiocese.
Shanley was once known as a long-haired priest in blue jeans who reached out to Boston's troubled youth in the late '60s. Now 73, he was defrocked by the Vatican last year after being charged with sexually abusing boys at the Newton parish between 1979 and 1989.
His alleged victims contend they were taken out of religious education classes and raped by Shanley in the church rectory, confessional and restroom.
The remaining accuser is 27 and says he was sexually abused by Shanley between 1983 and 1989, when he was between the ages of 6 and 11. Prosecutors said they plan to call the man's father and wife to testify.
Shanley's is one of just a handful of criminal cases that prosecutors have been able to bring to trial against priests accused of molesting young parishioners decades ago.
Most of the priests accused in hundreds of civil lawsuits avoided criminal prosecution because the alleged crimes were committed so long ago that charges were barred by the statute of limitations. But because Shanley moved out of Massachusetts, the clock stopped. He was arrested in California in May 2002.
Shanley became a lightning rod for public anger over the clergy sex abuse scandal after internal church documents were released showing church officials knew that he advocated sex between men and boys, yet they continued to transfer him from parish to parish.
His lawyer, Frank Mondano, has said he will argue that the man made up his story of abuse after the scandal erupted into the headlines several years ago. All of Shanley's alleged victims settled lawsuits with the church in April 2004. The exact monetary terms were not disclosed, but an attorney for the men has said each received more than $300,000.
Vatican Disciplines 17 Priests in N.Y.
January 24, 2005 [Associated Press]
ROCKVILLE CENTRE, N.Y. - The Roman Catholic Church has disciplined 17 priests of a New York diocese for sexual abuse allegations.
The Diocese of Rockville Centre on Long Island informed parishioners of the actions in a three-page letter listing the status of sex abuse cases against 23 priests.
Bishop William F. Murphy reported that eight priests were defrocked by the Vatican, nine were permanently suspended, three await canonical trials and two have been cleared. Proceedings against another have been deferred.
Several victims' rights groups criticized the bishop, saying the identities of the disciplined priests should be made public.
Diocese spokesman Sean Dolan said the names of those priests convicted on criminal charges have been disclosed. But releasing the names of the suspended priests could violate their privacy because they have not been proven guilty.
Judge Sets Bond For Former Fugitive Accused Of Molesting Child
Police Arrest Daniel Farinholt After Nearly 3-Year Search
January 24, 2005
LOS ANGELES -- A judge Monday set bond at $500,000 for the man accused of molesting a child and hiding from authorities for nearly three years.
Daniel Farinholt remains in Orange County Jail. He pleaded not guilty Monday to charges of child molestation and sexual abuse.
Farinholt, formerly an executive vice president of a large computer company in El Segundo, was taken into custody in Boise, where he was working for Hewlett-Packard.
Farinholt, who had reportedly been using the name Donald Dudley, was identified after being featured on the television series "America's Most Wanted." The tipster reportedly remained anonymous.
Farinholt was arrested on a $200,000 warrant stemming from a criminal case filed in March 2002, alleging three counts of child molestation and one felony count of continual sexual abuse of a girl under 13. The alleged child abuse occurred in Lake Forest, where Farinholt lived with a wife and children.
Farinholt made a preliminary court appearance on April 15 of that year and was granted a bond reduction to $100,000. He then failed to show up for a May 23, 2002, court appearance.
The following day, he made "a weak attempt" to stage his own death by abandoning his 1997 BMW at an El Segundo beach and smearing his blood on his boat, "Reel'n and Rock'n," which was about 100 yards offshore, police said. Farinholt had reportedly hoped to get investigators to believe he had either committed suicide or been the victim of a homicide, but it was too small an amount of blood to be believable, police said
Authorities had since tracked Farinholt to Texas and Colorado, among other places.
Farinholt is scheduled to return to court Feb. 4 for a pre-trial hearing.
Shanley trial underscores complexities
The priest has had many accusers, but now only one whose case is in court - complicating a high-profile drama.
January 24, 2005
BOSTON – Opening statements in the trial of Paul Shanley are set to begin Monday - advancing an epic in which a popular long-haired priest of the 1960s has become one of the biggest pariahs in today's clergy sexual-abuse scandal.
Defrocked by the Vatican last year, Mr. Shanley is one of few clergy accused of molestation to actually face prosecution. He is charged with child rape and indecent assault and battery while a priest at a nearby Newton parish in the 1980s. If convicted, he could face life in prison.
Yet despite his notoriety among victims' advocates - child-abuse accusations date back to at least 1967 - a conviction is far from certain. Though four men originally accused him of molestation, prosecutors dropped two of them from the case in July, and a third was dropped last week after failing to appear for scheduled meetings. Now, the trial is based on the allegations of a lone accuser.
That could weaken the case against Shanley, say experts. It also underscores the challenges and complexities surrounding the prosecution of child abuse, especially when trials take place decades after the alleged crimes. At worst, say some, the way this case has played out - especially if Shanley is acquitted - could deter future victims from stepping forward.
"[The sole accuser] is all alone. That's got to feel rough," says Gary Schoener, a clinical psychologist in Minneapolis and an expert on the clergy sex-abuse scandal. "I guarantee if he knew he'd be alone in the beginning ... he wouldn't be here. There's got to be some anger and resentment connected to that."
To victims' advocates, Shanley is infamous for his cunning and malice. They say he preyed on young victims repeatedly. And according to church documents released after the scandal broke in 2002, he was transferred from parish to parish over several decades.
"Shanley is both a symbol, and a real threat," says David Clohessy, the executive director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP).
Accusations and hurdles in court
To begin with, the case in the Middlesex Superior Court in Cambridge, Mass., revolved around the allegations of four men who had taken religious education classes at St. Jean the Evangelist Parish in Newton. They claimed that Shanley raped them in the rectory, the confessional, and the restroom from 1979 to 1989, according to the district attorney's office.
The last accuser to remain in the case and testify - known in court as Male No. 3 - alleges that Shanley raped and assaulted him from the time he was 6 years old until he was 11.
Most of the clergy who have faced civil suits from accusers have eluded prosecution - because the statutes of limitations have often run out. Shanley's case is an exception: Because he left Massachusetts with its 15-year statute of limitations in 1990, the "clock stopped." He was arrested in San Diego in 2002. He later pleaded not guilty and was held on bail.
Those seeking accountability in the Catholic Church abuse scandal face other hurdles beyond statutes of limitations. Testimony in such cases has often been based on recovered memory - an intensifying sense of past trauma, dawning on a victim years after supposed abuse - which can be controversial in court for juries and defense attorneys alike.
In the current case, Male No. 3, now in his 20s, says he recalled the abuse after the scandal broke in the Archdiocese of Boston three years ago.
"I have a great difficulty accepting recovered memory," says Joseph Oteri, a Boston-area defense attorney who is not involved in the case. "A lot of [memory] is stories people hear over the years. They hear stories and pretty soon think it happened to them."
Schoener says that juries, too, are often sympathetic to offenders in old cases "to the degree that anything is fuzzy."
The case's fallout for other victims
Many of Shanley's accusers have received financial settlements from the Boston Catholic Archdiocese. Some experts say an acquittal in the criminal case could prompt more victims to come forward, angering them enough to make their cases public, even if they had previously decided not to do so.
But Clohessy says the reverse is also true: If a conviction isn't a sure thing for a priest considered by many to be one of the worst villains, they may ask, how will lesser-known figures be held accountable?
"Whenever a dangerous predator escapes prosecution it makes already very pessimistic and hopeless victims feel worse," says Clohessy. "But that's even more true in a case like Shanley's where there are multiple accusers, and most importantly, a clear, lengthy, incriminating set of written records proving that church leaders knew he was dangerous."
For David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, Shanley's behavior should have sent warning signals to the church.
"He's emblematic of the fact that the church did not take the actions it should have taken," says Dr. Finkelhor. Shanley was known for blurring the boundaries between adults and children and has been accused of publicly advocating sex between men and boys. "Maybe that means the failure to pick up on what was going on was more egregious."
January 24, 2005
Sheriff: Worst Case of Child Abuse Ever
January 24, 2005
Knox County, TN - Yet another child abuse case in Knox County, as Sheriff Tim Hutchison put it, it's one of the worst cases of alleged child abuse he's seen.
Four children are in protective custody, with two of them hospitalized, the mother and boyfriend are in jail.
As Volunteer TV’s Ron Sprowl reports, the children, ages five, four, three and one all suffered abuse. The three year old girl and the one year old boy remain hospitalized.
23-year-old Stephanie Jo Allen and her live-in boyfriend 20-year-old Phillip Cory Reep were taken into custody Sunday night at their Ripon Circle residence.
Authorities went to their home to look for Reep after the children's grandmother called deputies concerning the welfare of her grandchildren.
Authorities say Allen first told them he was not there, that's when police say they saw the conditions of the children.
"The three-year-old girl was severely burned parts of the lower parts of her body. She had bruises and knots all over the head. The one-year-old, as well, knots and bruising over the body and head," said Knox County Sheriff Tim Hutchison. "The five-year-old, the four-year-old, three-year-old all told us that it was momma's boyfriend Cory that did those things to them."
Deputies did find Reep inside the house hiding in a bathroom near the bedroom.
Sheriff Hutchison also says the mother told detectives she knew nothing about the abuse, didn't know it was happening and really wasn't that concerned.
She's jailed on a $700,700 bond; boyfriend Reep's bond is $1.2 million
Jury selection to begin in multiple murder and sexual abuse case
January 24, 2005 [Associated Press] By Juliana Barbassa
FRESNO, Calif. - Attorneys will begin screening jurors Tuesday morning in the multiple murder trial of Marcus Wesson, a domineering patriarch who allegedly controlled his family with religious teachings, incest and threats of mass suicide.
Wesson, 57, was the only one to emerge alive from the back bedroom of the modest one-story house at the end of a tense, hours-long standoff. Police discovered nine bodies in a bloody tangle and ten white coffins stacked against the living room walls.
Each victim had been shot once in the eye - the youngest a 1-year-old toddler, the oldest a 25-year-old woman whose child was among the dead.
The killings shocked even veteran officers in this Central Valley town, where police had been called by relatives desperate to get their children out of the house. Officers cried openly as they pulled body after body out of the bedroom, the youngest at the bottom of the pile.
Wesson faces nine murder charges, and more than a dozen counts of sexual abuse against his own daughters and nieces. But no gunpowder residue was found on his hands. Prosecutors won't discuss their trial strategy, but their witnesses include several experts on mind control, indicating they may try to show Wesson ordered one of his children to commit the murders. Wesson could be put to death if convicted.
Showing how Wesson controlled his household through ideology, surveillance and fear will be at the crux of the case, said Richard Ofshe, a sociologist and cult expert with the University of California, Berkeley.
"If you want to take this seriously, you really have to learn how he ran this group," said Ofshe. The prosecution will have to show how he could get "nine people who didn't feel like dying to sit still."
Earlier this month, 2,200 potential jurors were summoned to appear in Fresno County Superior Court. Hundreds are expected to answer the request on Tuesday, and after about a month of questioning, 12 will be chosen to hear the case.
"I'll be looking for jurors who will refuse to lower the burden of proof in the face of enormous publicity and community sentiment," Wesson's public defender, Pete Jones, said on Friday.
The preliminary hearing last April offered a glimpse of what the jurors will hear in the coming months.
According to investigators' testimony, Wesson had strict control over his large household, which included several children bred through incest.
One of Wesson's surviving daughters said he would inflict "weeklong spankings" if the children broke his rules, which for girls included dressing modestly and not talking to males outside the family.
The 20-year-old said Wesson forced the family to hear him preach twice a day from his King James Bible, and that he began molesting her and her sisters when they were as young as five, Fresno homicide detective Carlos Leal testified.
One of Wesson's nieces - a young woman he raised, then had a child with - told investigators the family patriarch had announced his plan to commit mass suicide if there was a threat against the clan, such as interventions by police or Child Protective Services.
The niece also spoke of a more gruesome plan involving the girls, whom Wesson called "his soldiers." She said that when it came time to commit suicide, Wesson had intended for them to "go out and kill the rest of the family members that were no longer in his house," according to Richard Byrd, another Fresno detective.
On March 12, the day of the killings, several family members had tried to retrieve their children from the Wesson household. The conflict escalated, and they called the police for help, crying hysterically and saying that Wesson was dangerous.
Wesson's attorney has argued that the oldest victim - Wesson's daughter Sebhrenah - pulled the trigger, killing her siblings and her child before committing suicide. "Sebhrenah fell on the gun after shooting herself," Jones said during the preliminary hearing.
Prosecutor Lisa Gamoian has not spoken to the press about the case, and was not available for comment before trial. But she said in court that the facts speak for themselves, that that Wesson is clearly culpable.
"It was only Mr. Wesson who exited the bedroom," Gamoian said.
Officer Byrd said that according to the niece, Wesson was obsessed with David Koresh, the leader of the Branch Davidian cult that got into a deadly 1993 confrontation with federal agents outside Waco, Texas. He apparently wanted to create a similar following within his own family, gathering relatives around the television to watch reports on the cult leader, Byrd said.
Potential prosecution witnesses include family members and mental health specialists known for their work on other notorious murder cases, such as Park Dietz.
Dietz testified in the trial of Jeffrey Dahmer, and concluded that David Berkowitz was sane in the "Son of Sam" case. But his work for Andrea Yates' prosecutors has recently been discredited, and the prosecution is reconsidering calling the specialist.
The list also includes J. Reid Meloy, a forensic psychologist, and Kris Mohandie, who has worked for the Los Angeles Police Departments.
Attorneys said jury selection is expected to take one month. No cameras will be allowed in the courtroom.
Storm Delays Trial for Former Priest
January 24, 2005 [Associated Press]
BOSTON - The winter storm that pounded the Northeast prompted Gov. Mitt Romney to keep some nonessential state workers home Monday, including employees at the courthouse where a high-profile clergy sex abuse cases was to begin.
Romney's announcement meant that opening statements in the trial of defrocked priest Paul Shanley, one of the highest-profile figures to go to trial in the Roman Catholic clergy sex abuse scandal, would not begin in Middlesex Superior Court until Tuesday. A jury was seated last week.
Shanley, 73, is accused of child rape and indecent assault and battery on a child under 14. Allegations against him were among the hundreds of clergy sex abuse lawsuits settled by the Archdiocese of Boston.
The alleged victim, now 27, says Shanley raped him repeatedly at St. Jean's parish in Newton between 1983 and 1989, beginning when he was six years old. Charges related to three of the alleged victims have been dropped by prosecutors.
Shanley, once a long-haired priest in blue jeans who reached out to Boston's troubled youth, was defrocked by the Vatican last year after being charged with sexually abusing boys.
Man charged with sex abuse
January 24, 2005 [Associated Press]
Medford, OR — Numerous sex charges have been filed against a Southern Oregon man accused of abusing boys he met at motorcycle and motocross events, the authorities said.
Daniel Zeman, 65, of Central Point has been charged with sodomy, sex abuse and encouraging child sexual abuse.
Zeman was being held this weekend in the Jackson County Jail on more than $4 million bail.
A dozen people have come forward to claim they were sexually abused by Zeman when they were between the ages of 9 and 16, Medford police Lt. Tim George said.
Zeman, who has no previous felony record in Oregon, has been held in jail since Jan. 10, when he was arrested following a monthlong investigation.
More charges were added Friday.
Caseworker not guilty of neglect
Jury says she did obstruct death probe
January 24, 2005 [Associated Press]
INDIANAPOLIS – A jury Saturday found a former child welfare caseworker not guilty of neglect, but said she did obstruct an investigation into an abuse-related death of a 4-year-old boy she helped place with adoptive parents.
Marion Superior Court jurors deliberated for more than eight hours before finding Denise C. Moore, 43, guilty of obstruction of justice, but not guilty of two counts of neglect. Her sentencing was scheduled for February 23
The case had given people a behind-the-scenes look at the high number of cases and high turnover inside the state’s system for protecting abused and neglected children. Several caseworkers testified that they feel pressured to place children in adoptive homes and that they deal with too many cases.
Defense attorney Jack Crawford said he was pleased that Moore had been acquitted of the most serious charges.
Prosecutors claimed Moore lied about doing a background check on L.B. and Latricia Bars, the couple who adopted twins Anthony and Latoya Bars in 1999
They argued that a proper check would have found three substantiated cases of abuse in the Barses’ home and shown that L.B. Bars was convicted in 1987 of felony battery for whipping his daughter with an extension cord.
Beaten and starved, Anthony, 4, died in January 2002
Latoya is mentally handicapped from the abuse. The Barses were convicted of child neglect with Latricia Bars sentenced to 13 years in prison, and L.B. Bars sentenced to eight years.
“By the jury’s verdict, they found her not guilty of hurting those kids, which is what we claimed all along,” Crawford said.
Crawford argued during this week’s trial that Moore had a caseload of more than 100 children in the Marion County Office of Family and Children, well above the limit of 35 ordered by a federal court. Crawford said during the trial that the responsibility of placing the children with the couple was not just Moore’s.
If the proper background check were done, the information on L.B. Bars would have been enough to block the adoption, prosecutors said.
Moore’s supervisor Mary Kettery testified Thursday that Moore’s work had deteriorated during the time the state placed the twins with the couple with an abusive past.
Kettery said Moore carried an average caseload of about 39 children.
When questioned by the defense, Kettery said that number could have climbed to more than 100 at times.
Kettery testified that although she approved the twins adoption, it was Moore’s job to give her the appropriate background information.
Man and woman arrested for abusing her son
January 24, 2004 [Associated Press]
Council Bluffs, IA- Charges have been filed against a man and woman accused of abusing her three-year-old son.
The woman, 24-year-old Courtny Anderson, was arrested last week on child endangerment, willful injury and neglect or abuse of a dependent person.
Her boyfriend, 32-year-old Scott Davis, has been charged with willful injury and child endangerment.
Police says Davis allegedly hog tied the boy with electrical tape and placed a rag in his mouth to quiet his crying. Anderson shut the lights in the boy's room, closed the door and left him there for at least 20 minutes.
Police say doctors discovered the boy had been whipped on his legs and back, his left eye was swollen shut and he had burns on the left side of his face.
The child has been placed in protective custody.
Teacher jailed over children porn
A former primary school teacher has been jailed for nine months after child pornography was found on his computer.
January 24, 2005 [BBC News]
Daniel Kinge, of Eaton Close, Leamington Spa, admitted nine counts of making indecent images of children and one of having indecent photographs.
Sentencing the 23-year-old at Warwick Crown Court, the judge told Kinge his offences were so serious he had no option but to send him to prison
He was specially commended in teacher training awards in 2004.
Kinge, who taught religious education, was placed on the sex offenders' register for 10 years and prevented from working with children indefinitely.
Judge James Pyke told him: "You...must understand that those who provide or stimulate a market for this repulsive type of material, must bear their full share of responsibility for the abuse and degradation suffered by the children who were depicted in these images."
Warwickshire Police became aware of Kinge as part of their investigations into paedophile activity in Leamington.
But he was caught when the FBI arrested a man in Wisconsin as part of another investigation.
Kinge was arrested at Wellesbourne Church of England Primary School, Warwickshire, on 18 November 2004.
Two computers were found to have more than 110 indecent images on them.
Neil Bannister QC, prosecuting, said the 'evidence eliminator' on his computer was set at the highest level.
Education department officials in Warwickshire said that Kinge had been dismissed from his school post.
They added that both the Department for Education and Skills and the General Teaching Council would be informed.
The school's head teacher, Graeme Burgess, who nominated Kinge for the outstanding teacher award, said he had "fully deserved" the nomination.
He added: "The children adored him. He only ever seemed to be interested in education and driving forward standards and caring.
"To find out something like this could be taking place is awful. I think everybody involved feels extremely let down and abused in their own way."
An order was also made preventing Kinge from having any access to a computer linked to the internet.
New court date set in child abuse case
Jan 23, 2005 [Herald Sun]
By John Stevenson
DURHAM -- A new court date has been set for what some officials have described as one of the worst nonfatal child-abuse cases in Durham history.
The case had been set for Durham County Superior Court last week. But it was postponed until Feb. 21, reportedly so two of three suspects could talk to a prosecution investigator.
Assistant District Attorney Mitchell Garrell said one or more of the suspects might plead guilty next month. If not, they will be arraigned and trial dates will be set, he said.
The incident involves a 4-year-old boy who allegedly was tied to a closet doorknob for so long May 6, 2004, that he contracted gangrene. One of his legs had to be amputated.
Tamekecia Justice, the child's mother, and Randall Lee Hargraves are accused of inflicting serious bodily injury on the boy. Desiree Justice, reportedly the boy's grandmother, faces the same charge.
Each faces prison time if convicted.
Hargraves was Tamekecia Justice's boyfriend at the time of the incident, and he has now agreed to speak with an investigator for the prosecution, Garrell said. Desiree Justice has done the same, Garrell said Thursday.
Garrell previously had said that, despite the suspects' relationships, one of them might turn against the others and cooperate with authorities to avoid a prison term. He declined to elaborate on any possible deals.
The suspects are free on bail. Court documents list the address for Hargraves and Tamekecia Justice as 2503-B S. Roxboro Road.
Cases of physical child abuse are not rare in Durham, though they generally appear in court less often than robberies or murders.
Another serious one was resolved in 2003, when Jeanene L. Scurlock was convicted of dipping her daughter into scalding water, leaving the child with burns to both feet and blisters on the right foot.
Scurlock was placed on probation for three years and ordered to attend parenting classes and perform 100 hours of unpaid community service work.
The same year, Tyrone Moore received an active prison sentence of 42 to 60 months after he pleaded guilty to felonious child abuse involving serious injury.
He was accused of shaking his girlfriend's daughter so hard that it caused bleeding in the child's brain and hemorrhaging in her eyes, among other injuries.
January 23, 2005
San Jose man sentenced to 102 years in prison for kidnapping and rape
January 23, 2005
San Jose, CA [Associated Press]
San Jose, Calif. A San Jose man who was convicted of kidnapping and raping a 9-year-old girl has been sentenced to 102 years in prison.
Daniel Montiel Cruz was sentenced Friday by Santa Clara County Judge Rene Navarro for the three-day abduction in 2003, when the girl was kidnapped from her San Jose home after she returned from school.
In September, a jury found Cruz guilty of 10 felonies for an assortment of crimes, including burglarizing the house, binding and raping the girl, and assaulting the girl's mother and teen brother.
The victim, now 11, was not in court, but she wrote a letter telling the judge she would feel safer if Cruz was jailed for the rest of his life.
Cruz's attorney vowed to appeal the conviction and sentence. He maintains that Cruz was incapable of knowing right from wrong, and suffered post-traumatic stress disorder from childhood abuse.
Education cited for child abuse reporting rise
An Australian cultural studies expert says better community education is behind an increase in reported cases of child abuse.
An Australian cultural studies expert says better community education is behind an increase in reported cases of child abuse.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found reports of suspected child abuse, harm or neglect rose by more than 21,000 across Australia in 2003 to 2004, compared to the previous year.
It also found notifications have more than doubled in the last four years.
Professor Karen Brooks from Queensland's University of the Sunshine Coast says better education means more people are filing complaints.
"Per capita, per head the incidence of sexual abuse is probably pretty much the same because even now as indeed 10, 20, 100 years ago, there are still people not coming forward and reporting what's happened to them," she said.
"This is proving that we still need to go further with this education."
Man charged with sex abuse
January 23, 2005 [Central Kentucky News-Journal] By James Roberts
A Campbellsville man already serving 21 years for rape has been indicted on a charge of first-degree sex abuse.
Michael Earl Gaskins, 41, who is currently serving time at the Kentucky State Reformatory, was indicted in Taylor Circuit Court on Tuesday.
According to the indictment, Gaskins subjected a minor to sexual contact in the fall of 1999.
Campbellsville Police Department Detective Pat Skeens said the child, who was 8 years old at the time, was too afraid to come forward when the abuse occurred. As the child grew older, it was more difficult to keep the abuse a secret. The child reported the incident to a sibling, who told the children's mother.
Police arrested Gaskins in September 2001 when he kidnapped a 14-year-old girl at knife point and held her hostage at his home for more than eight hours while he raped and sodomized her.
In November 2002, Gaskins was sentenced to 21 years in prison for second-degree burglary, attempted kidnapping, five counts of third-degree rape, five counts of third-degree sodomy and one count of intimidation of a witness.
No bond was set for the sex abuse charge. If convicted , Gaskins could be sentenced to as much as five years in prison.
New allegation in abuse case
Former Olympic judge allegedly confronted in '92 about claims of child molestation
January 22, 2005 [Fort Worth Star-telegram] By Max B. Baker
National diving coaches confronted Wirt Norris, a former Olympic diving judge from Texas, more than a decade ago about child molestation allegations, according to two former divers.
The divers said two coaches challenged Norris at a 1992 diving competition after being told that one of the divers had been molested by Norris years earlier in Fort Worth.
That diver, Pat Harrington, now 45 and a psychologist in California, is among more than 15 men scheduled to testify against Norris at a pretrial hearing Jan. 31.
Norris, 77, a prominent Fort Worth real estate agent, has repeatedly denied molesting anyone. His lawyer said he would have to investigate the latest allegations.
Accusations against Norris surfaced publicly in 2002, when a Fort Worth family began to pursue a civil lawsuit against him. He has since been charged in Tarrant County with molesting one youth in 1995 and attempting to molest another in 1987.
Plan for trip spurred action
Harrington studied diving with Norris at the Panther Boys Club in Fort Worth and went on to become a member of the U.S. diving team in 1980 and 1984.
He said he stepped forward in 1992 to thwart Norris' plans to take young divers on a postseason trip to Hawaii.
"When I heard what was about to happen, that he was going to go to Hawaii with these young boys, I thought, 'We can't let this happen,' " Harrington told the Star-Telegram.
A friend, Mark Virts, said he alerted Vince Panzano, now coach at Ohio State University, and Randy Ableman, now a University of Miami coach, about the allegations.
Neither Panzano nor Ableman returned repeated telephone calls from the Star-Telegram.
Virts said he witnessed the confrontation between Panzano and Norris and that he later discussed it with Ableman.
Virts said the Hawaii trip never happened and that Norris was ostracized by the national diving community after the 1992 incident.
The Star-Telegram typically does not name victims of sexual abuse, but Harrington agreed to be identified after reading about the criminal allegations against Norris.
Curb on testimony sought
Alan Levy, a Tarrant County assistant district attorney, said Harrington's decision to speak out is a "significant breakthrough" in the criminal case against Norris.
Levy encouraged others who may have been molested by Norris to contact authorities.
Mike Ware, Norris' attorney in the criminal case, is fighting to keep testimony from Harrington and the other men out of Norris' trial.
"As far as we are concerned, this is a brand-new allegation, and it will have to be investigated," Ware said.
The Hallman family of Fort Worth was the first to go public with complaints against Norris. The Hallmans filed civil court documents in 2002, accusing Norris of molesting Will Hallman at Norris' Eagle Mountain Lake home in 1995, when Hallman was 12. Hallman is now 21.
In 2003, a Tarrant County grand jury indicted Norris on charges of indecency/fondling and indecent exposure in the Hallman case.
Second indictment in 2004
A year later, Norris was indicted on charges of attempted sexual assault and attempted indecency in a second case in which the accuser, now 28, said Norris had tried to molest him at the lake house in 1987. More than a dozen other men have since come forward with similar allegations dating to at least 1956, according to a list of prospective witnesses filed in the criminal case by the district attorney's office.
Those cases are too old for charges to be filed. Under state law, charges must be filed within 10 years of the accuser's 18th birthday.
But the men tell similar stories: that as youths they became sexually involved with Norris. In a few instances the men allege that Norris drew them into sexual acts with another man or with other youths. The men said the encounters occurred in Fort Worth, Arkansas, California, Maryland and Michigan, court records show.
State District Judge Wayne Salvant will decide if the men will be allowed to testify at Norris' trial in the Hallman case, set for May.
Woman suing for abuse comes face to face with accused priest
THE REV. JAMES POOLE: After she filed against him, two others followed her lead.
January 23, 2005 [Anchorage Daily News] By Nicole Tsong
When the woman known as Jane Doe 1 entered the room for the deposition of the Rev. James Poole, the Jesuit priest she has accused of molesting her as a child in Nome, she hadn't seen him in more than a decade.
He looked smaller than she remembered. He spoke almost like a little kid about their interaction. But his scent, the intimate smell of someone that rekindles memories, hadn't changed.
"It was the same smell," she recalled in a recent interview, before taking a break to compose herself.
Jane Doe sued Poole, the Diocese of Fairbanks, the Society of Jesus, Oregon Province and Alaska Jesuits in March last year, accusing the priest who founded Catholic radio station KNOM of molesting her as a child. Two other women subsequently filed similar molestation claims against the priest, who is 81 and lives in a Jesuit home in Spokane, Wash.
Poole has called some of the allegations against him "highly inflammatory and highly exaggerated" and has denied others.
Jane Doe, 37 and originally from the Bethel area, has accused Poole of molesting her more than 100 times, starting in 1978 in Nome during summer visits when she was 10 and lasting until she was 16. The abuse included kissing, heavy petting and having her lie on top of him, the suit says. She said he had her sit on his lap and they kissed for hours.
Jane Doe, who has remained anonymous since she filed the lawsuit, said she didn't intend to sue the church when she first reported Poole to church officials.
She initially approached the church after she heard about another lawsuit filed by men claiming sexual abuse by the Rev. Jules Convert. Still a practicing Catholic, she wanted to see how the church would respond. After she had trouble contacting Fairbanks' then-chancellor, the Rev. Richard Case, over the phone and grew increasingly anxious and emotional, she wrote Fairbanks Bishop Donald Kettler a letter dated Sept. 20 outlining her complaints.
An interview in person with the bishop in September didn't help, she said. She said he continually referred to the legal issues involved, when she wanted him to be compassionate, listen to her and tell her it was OK to feel the way she did.
Kettler said recently that he went into that interview without much information about Jane Doe or Poole.
"My intention was not to somehow frustrate her, but my intention was to offer counseling," he said. "I don't think I had any preconceived intentions. I just wanted to work with her the best I could."
But she was troubled by subsequent discussions about counseling, she said. She felt the bishop made it difficult by putting parameters on paying for a counselor. She decided then to discuss suing with attorney Ken Roosa.
"I've never had a client less eager to see me," Roosa said. But "she wanted to be treated in a pastoral fashion, to be treated as a human being and a Catholic."
The Jesuits now pay for her counseling, she said.
Jane Doe said she always knew the relationship with Poole was wrong and told friends about it in the past. But only recently, with the help of a counselor, did she realize it was sexual abuse, she said.
Poole was a close family friend, and she has come to regard the relationship as incestuous, Jane Doe said. He took advantage of her vulnerability, she said, telling her he loved her and that she was special.
"I can see now it was a sick relationship," she said. "How could I kiss a priest? It just seems so absurd."
Jane Doe said she also feels that the church does not want to take responsibility for what happened. Most recently, attorneys for Poole and the diocese have asked the judge to dismiss the case based on the statute of limitations, arguing the claims were too old to consider under the law. The Alaska Supreme Court already is considering that argument in the Convert case, which has plaintiffs with claims reaching as far back as the 1950s.
Jane Doe still carries the letter she wrote Kettler in her purse, its edges now worn. She said she hopes to settle the case but is ready to go to trial if she has to.
"It's just appalling to me," she said. "They know the truth."
January 22, 2005
Tasmania child abuse notifications increase
The number of notifications of suspected child abuse in Tasmania has increased from around 700 to more than 7,000 over a 12 month period.
Between 2003 and 2004 authorities received 7,250 calls about suspected child abuse or "notifications".
In the previous year, there were just 740.
The authors of the Institute of Health and Welfare report attribute the increase to changes in reporting methods, not an increase in abuse.
Under the new system introduced in mid-2003, all calls received and not just those which are substantiated, are included in the tally.
The report also found neglect was the most common form of abuse, and that only 18 per cent of reported cases were fully investigated.
Child death probe leads police to father in Huntsville
January 22, 2005 [Associated Press]
ORLANDO, Fla. Florida authorities say the husband of a woman accused of killing their four-year-old daughter has been arrested in Huntsville, Alabama. He will be sent back to Orange County, Florida to face aggravated child-abuse charges.
Police said 25-year-old Nathan Gadison was picked up Tuesday. He is not considered a suspect in the death of young Kai Gadison. But the Orange County sheriff's homicide detectives who interviewed Gadison in Alabama said he admitted hitting his kids as well as failing to protect the children from his wife, 27-year-old Kenya Hill. She's charged with first-degree murder and child abuse.
Detectives have spoken with Gadison a few times by phone since Kai was found dead in a filthy motel room shared with her mother and four siblings last month. At one point, Gadison agreed to return to Florida to answer questions, but that never happened.
Authorities received a break when Gadison called Detective Mark Hussey and Hussey told him that he was cleared in the little girl's death and would gladly mail him a sheriff's report. Gadison disclosed a Huntsville address, and he was arrested soon after.
Portales man indicted on child abuse charge
January 22, 2005 [Associated Press]
Clovis - A Portales man is accused of causing head injuries to his three-month-old son. The infant was seen at Roosevelt General Hospital on New Year's eve and then airlifted to Texas hospital.
Medical reports say he suffered internal injuries to the brain.
Twenty-four-year-old Robert Neely told police he had fallen on the child while watching him. The investigation determined Neely's story was inconsistent with the injuries.
District Attorney Matthew Chandler says Neely was indicted by a grand jury yesterday on a charge of first-degree child abuse.
Neely was being held on a 50-thousand-dollar cash-only bond.
January 21, 2005
Examiner: Injuries 'classic child abuse'
January 21, 2005 [Charlotte Observer]
Affidavit said suspect in toddler's death gave conflicting accounts
By Lena Warmack, Staff Writer
A state medical examiner told police that injuries to 22-month-old Alexander Johnson Christmas were "classic child abuse injury," according to a search warrant affidavit filed by a Concord detective after the child's death.
The search warrant application was prompted partly by reports from witnesses who told police they had heard someone took out a life insurance policy on the boy before he died Jan. 2.
Police said Thursday that the search failed to turn up such a policy. But the affidavit says Trevor Lawrence Brown, 21, who is charged with first-degree murder in connection with Alexander's death, gave police different accounts of how the toddler was injured.
Detective J.C. Tierney, who applied for the warrant, also said Brown told a friend several weeks before Alexander died that the Cabarrus County Department of Social Services was blaming him for injuries to the child, according to the affidavit.
A magistrate issued the warrant Jan. 6, the day after Brown was indicted.
Alexander lived with Brown, 21, Johnson, 36, and her 9-year-old daughter at Johnson's Concord apartment. Police said Alexander's 9-year-old sister was not injured. She is in foster care now.
According to the affidavit, Dr. Michael Sullivan of the N.C. Medical Examiner's Office told detectives that Alexander died after a penetrating blow to his abdomen by either a kick or a punch.
Sullivan told police Alexander's injuries were "classic child abuse injury," the affidavit said.
In the affidavit, Tierney gave the following account of police interviews with Johnson, Brown and several friends and neighbors of each:
Johnson told police that while she was at work Jan. 1, Brown called her and told her Alexander was throwing up.
In an interview Jan. 2, Brown told police he had tripped over Alexander and accidentally fallen on his stomach a few days before he died, according to the affidavit.
But in an interview Jan. 4, Brown told detectives that on Jan. 1, the day before Alexander died, he was "upset with some of the things that were going on" between him and Johnson. Brown "had Alex in his hands and his mind slipped a little," according to the affidavit.
In that interview, Brown told police he threw Alexander into a couch, aiming for the pillows, but misjudged, and Alexander hit the armrest, according to the affidavit.
"He then started playing horsey with Alex and accidentally dropped Alex on (Brown's) knee hard," Tierney wrote in the affidavit. Brown said Alexander landed on his knee stomach-first, according to the affidavit.
When Johnson returned home that night, she told police, Alexander looked sick. Every time he tried to drink water, he would vomit. He would not eat, and he vomited often throughout the night, according to the affidavit.
Johnson fell asleep beside Alexander about 5 a.m., according to the affidavit. When she awoke about 8 a.m., she found Alexander unresponsive and called 911, she told police.
A neighbor told detectives that Johnson told her she had asked Alexander, "What happened to you? Did Trevor do this to you?" and Alexander said yes, according to the affidavit.
Johnson declined to comment for this story. Brown is being held without bail in the Cabarrus County jail.
Cabarrus DSS Director Jim Cook said social workers had not known that Brown had significant involvement with the family.
Before Alexander died, medical providers had told DSS about three injuries to Alexander, one in mid-November and two in December, Cook said.
Keith Christmas, 46, the boy's father, said the toddler suffered several injuries since mid-November, including a sewing needle lodged in his buttocks, cuts under his left eye and inside his lip, and a bed falling on his hands.
"... Our assessment of the injuries that the child had received prior to his death ... was that we had an active child for whom (the lack of) supervision and childproofing of the house would have been the likely cause of the injuries that we saw," Cook said.
Child Abuse Expert Can Testify in Jackson Case
January 21, 2005 [Reuters]
By Dan Whitcomb
Santa Maria, Calif. (Reuters) - Prosecutors can call a child abuse expert to testify at Michael Jackson (news)'s molestation trial, a judge ruled on Friday, even as the defense claimed that the pop star's young accuser was a liar.
Jackson's lead attorney, Tom Mesereau, argued that the expert should not be allowed to tell jurors about the effects of child molestation if the 15-year-old boy and his family were making up the sex abuse in court.
"What if they are flat-out liars?" Mesereau asked Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville during a pretrial hearing in the case in the central California town of Santa Maria. "They have a history of lying in school ... and lying in the community."
He added that the defense intended to argue that the boy and his siblings were lying to win money from Jackson and that the child abuse expert would be used by prosecutors to paper over holes in their testimony.
"What if the court says 'this case is ridiculous?" Mesereau said. "These people have no credibility at all."
Prosecutors want the expert, whom they did not name in court, to testify that child victims often wait to report abuse, are reluctant to confide in those closest to them, give piecemeal accounts and retain an affection for their abuser.
They have asked that the courtroom be closed when Jackson's accuser takes the witness stand. Melville has not yet ruled on that request.
Melville said on Thursday that he would summon 750 possible jurors to his courtroom over three days beginning on Jan. 31, and would give questionnaires to those who can serve on a trial that is expected to last up to six months.
Lawyers would then scrutinize the questionnaires, which have not been made public, before formal jury selection begins the following week.
Jury selection is expected to take at least several weeks, which means opening statements in the sensational case would not likely begin before March. Some 80 news organizations from the U.S., Britain, Japan, Germany, Mexico and elsewhere have applied for seats in court or in a special overflow room.
Jackson is charged in a 10-count indictment with lewd acts on a child under the age of 14 and with conspiracy. The 46-year-old entertainer has pleaded not guilty.
Judge to review scope, cost of diocese child abuse audit
Jan. 21, 2005 [The Telegraph]
By Albert McKeon
MANCHESTER - A judge will try to breathe life into the stalled state review of child protection policies implemented by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester in the wake of the clergy abuse crisis.
On Thursday, the church and the state presented varying interpretations of the historic criminal agreement that both sides entered two years ago, demonstrating in a courtroom that differences essentially arise on the scope and cost of the audit.
The biggest sticking point is the extent to which the state can review the diocese’s abuse policies. Prosecutors want to interview anyone who will use the diocese’s procedures, but church officials claim that process crosses a constitutional boundary.
Hillsborough County Superior Court Judge Carol Conboy took the case under consideration, and urged the two parties to negotiate privately in the meantime. Conboy also offered to mediate any relevant issue as she prepared a decision.
Representatives for the state attorney general’s office and the diocese openly expressed a desire to keep the pact relevant. They both spoke of making the protection of children a paramount goal.
The diocese’s attorney, David Vicinanzo, told Conboy the church would consent to an immediate review of abuse policies. Prosecutors, though, replied that the diocese’s audit terms prevent any meaningful review of those policies.
In signing the criminal agreement in December 2002, Bishop John McCormack acknowledged that diocesan officials could have faced charges for endangering children through their handling of abusive priests. The diocese accepted an annual state audit for five years.
The state, though, has not conducted an audit. Tuesday’s oral arguments exhibited the divide on the scope of such a review.
State prosecutors asked the court to approve an audit that can question active parishioners - those who work or volunteer for the church - on the effectiveness of the diocesan child protection program. To gauge the efficiency of the diocesan policy, prosecutors must pose direct questions to the people who would use it, and not limit an audit to a less extensive review, said state Assistant Attorney General Ann Larney.
“If the policies and procedures don’t work, if it looks good only on paper . . . where are we? We’re back to 2002,” Larney said.
But Vicinanzo argued that the state’s audit proposal is open-ended, and that it veers from the agreement’s original terms: prosecutors measuring only compliance. To that end, the diocese has implemented a system that reports abuse to the state, and it has shared all policies and paperwork, he said.
Vicinanzo cited federal constitutional protections in trying to stop the state from potentially asking questions that he said would measure parishioners’ perceptions of the church’s handling of abuse claims.
“It should be narrow, and not have changing terms by the state,” he said of a proposed audit. “The perceptions and opinions of parishioners inserts the state right into the middle of parishioners (and) church leaders.”
Larney, though, argued that the audit would not ask questions of a religious nature, meaning the diocese’s First Amendment argument does not apply. She also suggested the diocese waived any constitutional protection by signing the agreement.
The audit’s scope would have a narrow, secular focus so that prosecutors can determine if church personnel have a firm grasp of diocesan abuse policies, she said.
“The diocese entered into the agreement to prevent abuse. The church is not immune” to criminal review under the law, Larney said.
An attorney who said he represented a group of Catholics and some abuse victims also addressed the court. David Braiterman focused on the church’s past handling of abuse in more striking language than prosecutors did, and he urged Conboy to hold the diocese accountable to the agreement it signed.
Most of the abuse allegations investigated by prosecutors occurred decades ago. Vicinanzo said he objected to the state recently claiming the diocese had allowed the abuse of minors for four decades. Rather, almost every document shows the abuse transpired in a previous generation, he said, suggesting current church leadership has complied with state law.
Conboy will also try to reconcile the argument over the audit’s estimated $445,000 cost. Both sides acknowledge the criminal agreement does not specify who should pay for the review. The church wants the state to shoulder the cost, but the state has recently offered to pay as much as half.
New office helps child abuse victims
January 21, 2005
Valdosta, GA - Victims of child abuse and trauma now have a new place to get help.
The Children's Advocacy Center opened a new and improved office this week. The facility, located on West Moore Street, is about 4,000 square feet and double the size of their old office.
There's a large intake area, therapy clinic, board room, and private interview rooms. "We have several entrances and exits, so if you're coming for a board meeting you can come in one way and leave that same saw and never go to the lobby and if you're coming for therapy you can come in a separate door, go to the therapist office and never see the other people," said Laura Bajalia, Director.
The building is being paid for with donations and money raised during the center's capital campaign.
66-year-old man gets five years in prison for sex abuse
January 21, 2005 [Daily Progress]
By Kate Andrews, staff writer
PALMYRA - A 66-year-old Troy man will serve five years in prison in a child sex abuse case that ended in a plea agreement Thursday.
Curtis Oneal Minor entered an Alford plea in Fluvanna County Circuit Court, denying guilt but acknowledging overwhelming evidence against him.
He received a 25-year sentence, with all but five years suspended.
Minor entered pleas for two counts of aggravated sexual battery and one count of carnal knowledge of a child, both felonies.
“Obviously, I don’t think five years is enough for that act,” Fluvanna Commonwealth’s Attorney Jeff Haislip said, “but this case was different from your average case.”
Haislip declined to discuss details of the agreement, but acknowledged that Minor’s age and poor health were considerations.
In October, Minor pleaded not guilty to felony charges of aggravated sexual battery, proposing a sex act to a child and forcible sodomy with a child. Those charges were dropped Jan. 6.
In Thursday’s case, Minor had been charged with eight more counts of forcible sodomy involving the first victim’s sister. Four of the sodomy charges were later downgraded to carnal knowledge of a child, and two others were changed to aggravated sexual battery. The plea agreement was reached Tuesday, according to the court clerk’s office.
A third, older sister was expected to testify about Minor’s past alleged sexual misconduct with her.
“I’m never happy when somebody goes to prison, but it’s something he thought he had to do,” said Mike Caudill, Minor’s attorney. “He’ll be all right.”
Minor faced, at minimum, a 28-year sentence if found guilty, Caudill said. “All in all, it worked out for him.”
He will be credited for time served at Central Virginia Regional Jail and will remain there until he is assigned to a state prison, Haislip said.
Part-time music teacher to face sex abuse charges
ST. PAUL -- A man who taught music part-time at St. Paul Elementary school faces sex abuse charges this morning.
He turned himself into Marion County deputies earlier this week. He's charged with five counts of sexually abusing a child.
The child is someone who lives in his home in St. Paul.
The superintendent of the school district says he does not think any of the students were abused because he was always supervised.
Bruce Shull St. Paul Superintendent said the school was devastated by the news, and is waiting the hear the outcome.
Child abuse on the rise
January 21, 2005 [Northern Territory News] Australia
By Rebecca Hewett
The NT has the second-highest rate of child abuse in the country with substantiated cases leaping 60 per cent in the past year, a national study has found.
The study, conducted by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, found the number of cases in the NT increased from 327 in the 12 months from 2002-03 to 527 in 2003-04 year -- Australia's second-highest rate per 1000 children.
Queensland had the highest rate, with 14 children per 1000 affected.
In the NT, the rate was 8.7 children per 1000.
But the NT had the highest number of children on protection orders -- 5.8 per 1000 compared to 5.4 in Tasmania.
The number of reported but not substantiated abuse cases increased by 25 per cent in 2003-04.
The study defined child abuse as neglect, physical, sexual or emotional abuse.
Spokesman for the Family and Community Services Advisory Council Barry Hansen said the jump could be due to many factors.
"It could be that there has been a genuine increase in actual cases, or there could simply have been an increase in reporting because there's greater attention on it now," Mr Hansen said.
"Thirdly it could be an aberration. But no increase in substantiated cases is desirable," he said.
The NT was unusual in that most children involved in substantiated cases of child abuse came from two parent families.
In Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory most were from single parent families.
Physical abuse was the most common form of child abuse in the NT, accounting for 38 per cent of substantiated cases, where emotional abuse and neglect figured highly in other states and territories.
The study found children aged one to four were most likely to be taken into care in the NT.
Girls were more vulnerable than boys, with 191 girls placed under care and protection orders in 2003-04 compared to 153 boys.
Police were the group most likely to report abuse.
Chilling account of abuse
Dad's narrative tells of repeated violence that led to a girl's death
January 20, 2005 Ruth Rendon [Houston Chronicle]
LEAGUE CITY - A couple of hours after taking his unconscious 2-year-old daughter to a hospital, Frank Padilla calmly and methodically demonstrated to a police detective how he hit the child in the stomach with a closed fist because she wet her pants.
In a 45-minute videotaped interview the evening of Aug. 8, 2003, Padilla sat slumped in a conference-room chair recalling the events that led to the eventual death of Linda Gloria Padilla.
"I need to know how it is your little girl ended up in the hospital," League City police Detective Marty Grant told Padilla under questioning at the League City Police Department. "The little girl can't tell us or the doctors what's wrong with her. Her little body is screaming what has been done to her."
At first, Padilla said the child had suffered a large bruise on her forehead after she fell off a kitchen counter as he tried to wash her hands a couple of weeks earlier.
In the taped interview, which was to be the focal point of Padilla's capital murder trial next month, the man then admitted to punching his daughter in the stomach, slapping her on the face and head and sexually assaulting her.
Padilla, 46, pleaded guilty earlier this month to capital murder and two counts of aggravated sexual assault and was assessed three life sentences. He likely will serve 70 years before being eligible for parole. He could have faced the death penalty had he gone to trial and been convicted.
Linda Padilla's death highlighted flaws in a state child-abuse hot line system. Two months before the girl died, a pizza delivery man called the hot line after seeing the little girl with a black eye. Frank Padilla was trying to hide her from the deliveryman when he brought a pizza to the family's League City apartment, the deliveryman said.
After hitting her two to three times in the stomach, Padilla said he got scared and drove his daughter to Christus St. John Hospital in Nassau Bay. She later was transferred to Memorial Hermann Hospital's pediatric intensive care unit. The girl died Aug. 13 after being taken off life support.
An autopsy showed she had a broken pelvis, broken ribs, a fractured skull and bruises all over her body.
While at the hospital, Padilla patiently waited his turn for care while he held the girl as if she were sleeping against his shoulder, an emergency-room doctor told the Chronicle. It wasn't until he answered all of the admitting nurses' questions and placed his daughter on a scale to weigh her that hospital personnel realized the severity of the girl's injuries.
During the interview with police, Padilla never asked how his daughter was doing.
"Just be honest," Grant encouraged Padilla while questioning him.
With his arms folded, Padilla told Grant that the girl's lack of ability to control her bladder would sometimes cause him to lose his temper.
"I've been trying to train her for months," he said. "Sometimes I spank her. I don't intend to hurt her."
While being prodded by Grant, Padilla acknowledged that he would hit the child with his hand and leave his handprint on the girl's bottom. Padilla, however, said he was not sure whether her bruises were the result of his hitting her.
'I lose my temper'
At one point in the interview, Padilla said he needed help. "I need to control my temper. I lose my temper with my daughter."
Then Padilla told Grant how he jabbed the girl after she urinated on herself the afternoon of Aug. 8.
"I punched her a couple of times in the stomach," he said. "But I didn't think it would cause any problems. She'd been crying all day. She peed and didn't tell us. I got mad."
Grant asked Padilla to demonstrate how hard he had hit his daughter. With a closed fist, Padilla slammed his fist on the conference room table, causing it to bounce. Throughout the interview, Grant asked Padilla to demonstrate how hard he hit the girl, and each time he slammed the table. Each time the table bounced.
On a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the worst, Grant asked Padilla to rank his anger when he struck his daughter. The man rated himself at a 7.
Padilla said after he punched his daughter in the stomach, the girl vomited and fell over.
An autopsy conducted on the child would show that the punches to her stomach broke her ribs, Grant said.
"I didn't mean to hurt her in any way," Padilla said.
During the violent abuse that day, the girl's mother, Magdalena Padilla, 33, was working at a Wal-Mart in Kemah. She is charged with injury to a child by omission. No trial date has been set although prosecutors expect to resolve the case by year's end.
Grant asked Padilla whether his daughter was scared. His response: "Probably."
Padilla also divulged that he had slapped his daughter on the face and the side of the head after she wet her panties.
With the same force he demonstrated with a closed fist, Padilla slammed his open hand on the table to show how hard he had slapped the girl about seven or eight times. The slapping gave the girl two black eyes, Grant said.
At one point in the interview, Grant, the father of two young children, left the room. The veteran officer said he had to calm down. Officers watching the interview in another room along with Grant went through stress debriefing after the interview.
"It was hard on us. It still is," Grant said.
Grant said among the child's injuries was a footprint from her father on the small of her back. The force caused the child's pelvis to break, he said. "He basically stomped her."
The child also had signs of being shaken based on the severe hemorrhaging in her eyes, Grant said.
Treatment became rougher
After Grant re-entered the conference room, Padilla said, "I didn't intend to do anything. I thought she was passed out because she was tired. The last two weeks I've been rougher than I used to.
"I know I'm a little rougher than I should," he said. "Every time this happens, it gets worse. I think about it, but at the same time I have anger inside of me and I wanted to release it. I really lost my temper for real this time. When I saw she wasn't waking up, I said, 'Come on, baby. Wake up. Don't do this to me.' "
Padilla has three children from a previous marriage. They live with his ex-wife.
He said he wanted Linda Padilla to have a normal life.
"I'm not a child abuser or a child molester," he said. "I was always trying to be a good father."
Interviews show aides complained repeatedly about alleged abuse
January 21, 2005 [Associated Press]
SANFORD, Fla. - Teacher's aides at a central Florida middle school complained several times over five years that a special needs teacher was abusing autistic students, an investigator's interviews showed.
The four aides told John Byerly, a Seminole County school district investigator, that they saw incidents of abuse and reported several to administrators at South Seminole Middle School. But their complaints about veteran teacher Kathleen Garrett, 48, seemed to be ignored, the aides said.
"It was only my word against hers and nothing was done, so I stopped saying anything about it," said Sabrina Mort, an aide in Garrett's room for three years.
Garrett, 48, has pleaded not guilty to five counts of child abuse, for which she faces up to 75 years in prison if convicted. She was arrested in November after Mort and another aide in the classroom made one more try and complained to Robin Dehlinger, the school's new principal. Dehlinger called authorities.
The charges against Garrett include breaking one student's teeth, locking another in a dark closet, and abusing three others by hitting them, bending back their fingers and jabbing them with her elbows.
Garrett has resigned, and the Florida Department of Education is investigating whether to revoke her teaching certificate.
The four aides were suspended with pay pending an investigation, which is ongoing.
January 20, 2005
Stepfather Will Serve 50-60 Years In Toddler's Death
Brianna Pope Died After Repeated Abuse
Omaha, NB - A Douglas County district judge said during Leonard Burk's sentencing Wednesday that it's probably the worst case of child abuse he's ever seen.
Burks was sentenced for killing his 3-year-old stepdaughter, Brianna Pope. Pope died of injuries suffered from repeated beatings by Burks in May 2003.
Burks apologized to the families involved and asked the court for mercy. He hung his head as he left the courtroom.
The state recommended he get 30 to 50 years in prison. Judge Robert Burkhard said he didn't think that was enough, and sentenced Burks to 50 to 60 years.
Mr. Burks, you're going away for a long time. At least, you're alive. She isn't," Burkhard said.
"I'm glad to see he gave him more than what the state recommended, but it still doesn't fix the system," said Pope's grandfather, Dennis Huggin. "The cries for help were there. They were comin' from all over the place -- the church, from us, from everyone."
Pope's death was one of the cases that prompted a state task force to investigate Nebraska's child welfare system. Last year, that task force proposed a list of changes to the governor.
Panel Begins Hearings Into Child Abuse Cases
Hearings Prompted By Recent Cases
January 18, 2005 [Associated Press] [KOIN]
SALEM, Ore. -- A legislative panel in Salem began hearings Monday into a child protection system that one lawmaker said suffers from "an alarming problem."
The state's top child protection official said the program is struggling to keep up with a rising number of child abuse and neglect cases fueled in large part by Oregon's methamphetamine epidemic.
The committee is looking for ways to avoid a repeat of two high-profile cases that have put a spotlight on the department's child protection efforts.
Last month, officials found a 5-year-old girl in a foster home near Sandy weighing a mere 28 pounds. The foster parents face charges of child abuse.
A week later, a 15-month-old boy died of head injuries after the state returned him to his birth mother as part of a state-supervised plan to reunite the family.
Salvas pleads guilty in child's death
January 20, 2005 [Rapid City Journal] By Vicky Wicks
RAPID CITY — Raymond Salvas pleaded guilty Wednesday to second-degree manslaughter in the Aug. 1 death of his daughter, and in exchange, the prosecution agreed to drop all other charges, including vehicular homicide and child abuse.
Salvas, 34, admitted in 7th Circuit Court to having "a couple of beers" before getting into his vehicle with two children, his 3-year-old daughter, Hanna Salvas, and his 7-year-old stepson, Casey Engelien.
With the children's mother, Jennifer Salvas, sitting in the courtroom behind him, the defendant stood before Judge Janine Kern and said that on Aug. 1, "I had my kids at the beach" and "had a couple of beers" before driving. Salvas admitted he was "probably driving too fast for the corner I was going into" and said he "had an accident."
When Kern asked who was in the vehicle with him, Salvas choked up when trying to say his daughter's name and was barely intelligible when he said he didn't remember if he put the children in car seats.
Kern told Salvas to sit at the defense table and put the microphone in front of him, and Salvas then sat and rocked forward and back with his arms wrapped around his midsection.
In response to Kern's continued questions to establish a factual basis for his plea, Salvas said he wasn't sure how fast he was going before the accident but guessed his speed was 40 mph. "I was distracted, and I took my eyes off the road," Salvas said. "When I looked up, I must have overcorrected."
Lara Roetzel, chief deputy Pennington County state's attorney, said an accident reconstruction report put Salvas' speed at 44 mph in a 35 mph zone.
Law enforcement reports have established that the accident happened on Sheridan Lake Road when Salvas' pickup truck apparently missed a curve and ran along a rock wall and into ditches before hitting a tree.
Salvas and his daughter were ejected from the vehicle, and Engelien was injured in the accident. Neither child was restrained by a car seat or safety belt, according to reports.
Originally set as a motions hearing at 1 p.m., Salvas' Wednesday appearance was delayed by half an hour while the state located Jennifer Salvas to be present when the defendant pleaded guilty.
During the hearing, Kern asked Roetzel if the victim's family was in agreement with the plea bargain, and Roetzel said the child's mother "believes this is an appropriate resolution to this case."
Salvas' attorney, Scott Armstrong, established the plea agreement for the record, which included that the state agreed to cap its recommendation for penitentiary time at eight years. Armstrong noted that both the state and defense asked Kern to agree to be bound by the recommendation, but Kern wanted to retain discretion.
Kern told Salvas that he faces up to 10 years in the penitentiary and a $10,000 fine, the maximum sentence for second-degree manslaughter, a class 4 felony. She said he could also be ordered to pay court costs and restitution, including $2,728.94 paid by South Dakota Crime Victims' Compensation Program for Hanna Salvas' funeral.
As part of the plea agreement, Roetzel said, the state dismissed vehicular homicide, two counts of child abuse, driving under the influence, and reckless driving charges from the Aug. 1 accident, as well as driving under the influence, possession of controlled substance, and ingesting charges from a June 25 incident.
Salvas' sentencing is set for Feb. 8
Two Florida Child Welfare Workers Fired
January 20, 2005 [Associated Press]
TAMPA, Fla. - Two child welfare workers were fired and a third was demoted after a 4-month-old child under their supervision was beaten to death, authorities said.
Phoenix Jordan Parrish died last month in Dothan, Ala., after his mother banged his head against a bed to stop him from crying, authorities said. Tierra Capri Gobble, 21, had been ordered by a court to stay away from the child.
Hillsborough Kids Inc., a private agency that handles foster care and adoption for the state, said the three employees failed to monitor the child after he was taken out of state by his great-uncle, Edgar Parrish. The workers were not identified.
Parrish, 41, had been trying to adopt Phoenix and his older sister, but he violated agreements with the agency when he moved out of state without permission, officials said.
Gobble is charged with capital murder and domestic violence, while Parrish faces charges of aggravated child abuse and being an accomplice to capital murder.
Jury Panel Seated In Ex-Priest Sex Abuse Trial
Testimony Scheduled To Begin Monday
January 20, 2005 [Associated Press]
Cambridge, Mass. -- A jury of eight men and eight women will hear the child rape case against former Catholic priest Paul Shanley, one of the most notorious figures in the clergy sex abuse scandal.
Jury selection was completed Thursday afternoon and the 12 regular jurors and four alternates will hear opening statements from the lawyers on Monday in Middlesex Superior Court.
Shanley, 73, is accused of child rape and indecent assault and battery on a child under 14. The alleged victim, now 27, says Shanley raped him repeatedly at St. Jean's parish in Newton between 1983 and 1989, beginning when he was 6 years old.
Shanley, once a long-haired priest in blue jeans who reached out to Boston's troubled youth, was defrocked by the Vatican last year.
His lawyer, Frank Mondano, has said he will argue that the accuser made up his story to win a monetary award in a civil lawsuit.
Charges related to three other alleged victims have been dropped by prosecutors.
Internal church documents showed church officials knew about allegations against Shanley as early as 1967 yet continued to transfer him from parish to parish.
Sentencing postponed for abusers of 6-year-old girl
January, 19, 2005
Fontana, CA - Sentencing was postponed on Wednesday for a Fontana man and his mother who kept a 6-year-old girl handcuffed to a table for 18 hours.
Paul Kusaka, 33, pleaded guilty to child abuse Dec. 17 and agreed to a sentence of eight months in county jail.
His mother, Ila Kusaka, admitted to child abuse and destroying evidence in exchange for a sentence of 180 days and probation.
Prosecutors and Ila Kusaka's lawyer, however, disagreed on Wednesday about whether the woman had agreed to spend three or four years on probation.
Judge Keith Davis ordered a court reporter to prepare a transcript of the Dec. 17 hearing to resolve the dispute and ordered everyone back to Fontana Superior Court on Feb. 16 for sentencing.
9 Jurors Seated For Ex-Priest Sex Abuse Trial
January 20, 2005 [Associated Press]
Cambridge, Mass. -- Nine jurors have been chosen for the child rape trial of defrocked priest Paul Shanley.
Twelve regular jurors and four alternatives will hear the case against Shanley, one of the most notorious figures in the clergy sex abuse scandal. Testimony in the trial is scheduled to begin Monday in Middlesex Superior Court.
Shanley, 73, is accused of child rape and indecent assault and battery on a child under 14.
The alleged victim, now 27, says Shanley raped him repeatedly at St. Jean's parish in Newton between 1983 and 1989, beginning when he was six years old.
Shanley, once a long-haired priest in blue jeans who reached out to Boston's troubled youth, was defrocked by the Vatican last year after being charged with sexually abusing four boys at St. Jean's between 1979 and 1989. Charges related to three of the alleged victims have been dropped by prosecutors.
Shanley's lawyer, Frank Mondano, has said he will argue that the accuser made up his story to win a monetary award in a civil lawsuit.
All of the alleged victims settled civil lawsuits with the Boston Archdiocese in April 2004. The exact monetary terms were not disclosed, but an attorney for the men has said each received more than $300,000.
Internal church documents showed church officials knew about allegations against Shanley as early as 1967 yet continued to transfer him from parish to parish.
After a second day of jury selection Wednesday, four women and five men had been chosen to sit on the jury. Jury selection was scheduled to resume Thursday.
Lebanon couple's child abuse case goes to court
January 20, 2005 Lebanon, TN [News 2]
An arraignment is scheduled Thursday for a Wilson County couple accused of chaining their 15-year-old son to a bed and starving him.
James and Christine Osbourne's son Josh weighed only 50 pounds when police removed him from their home. The Osbourne's say the boy was so small due to a heart surgery earlier in life. A grand jury is deciding whether of not the couple will be charged, and on what counts.
Layton Grandmother May Face Child Abuse Charges
January 19, 2005 Layton, UT
A Layton grandmother whose grandson was falsely pronounced dead, could face child abuse charges. Earlier this month, the 4-year old boy was found unconscious in a bathtub. He was declared dead at the hospital, but was later found to be breathing. Police began investigating because the boy had old burn wounds.
Craig Gibson/Layton Asst. Police Chief: "We're very happy the little boy is doing much beter, but we're also concerned about his care"
Police have not arrested the grandmother, but prosecutors are screening the case.
Derry child abuse principal resigns
Former headmaster admits 29 sex offences
January 20, 2005 [Belfast Telegraph]
By Brendan McDaid
A Londonderry headmaster who admitted a litany of sex offences against underage boys has resigned from his post, education chiefs today confirmed
The Council for Catholic Maintained Schools this week began its search for a new principal to replace Jude Lynch (44), at the Good Shepherd Primary School on Dungiven Road.
Lynch tendered his resignation after pleading guilty to 29 sex offences against three underage boys in the Ballymena area and Belfast.
The former principal, from Learmount Road in the Park area of Co Derry, confessed to a string of indecent assaults and gross indecency offences against three males, all under 17 years of age.
In October, Lynch was released on bail at Antrim Crown Court pending sentence, and his name added to the sex offenders' register.
It was made clear in court that none of the victims had ever attended the Good Shepherd school.
The former principal was suspended from his job while the case against him proceeded.
The Deputy Chief Executive for the Council for Catholic Mantained Schools, Jim Clarke, however, today confirmed Lynch had tendered his resignation immediately after entering his guilty plea to the charges.
"What we have done now is advertise for a new principal," Mr Clarke said.
Lynch's litany of offences occurred in the Ballymena area and in Belfast, between September 2002 and May 2003.
Speaking during the hearing in October, Judge David Smyth said it was a "serious case . . . with possibly a number of aggravating features".
He added that Victim Impact Reports would need to be prepared.
The case was adjourned for mention on a date to be fixed, and a date for sentencing has also yet to be set.
In addition, Lynch has pleaded guilty to numerous counts of indecent assault, and gross indecency.
He has also pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and abetting indecent assault, two counts of aiding and abetting gross indecency with a child, one count of attempted buggery and one count of inciting gross indecency with a child.
Lynch is due back in court for sentence
January 19, 2005
Accuser dropped in priest abuse trial
January 19, 2005 [Associated Press]
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) - Prosecutors dropped an accuser from the criminal case against former priest Paul Shanley, leaving just one alleged victim to testify in the trial that began Tuesday for one of the most notorious figures in the clergy sex abuse scandal.
Prosecutors already had dropped two other accusers from the case, and they removed the third because they have been unable to find him since a hearing in October when he had difficulty remaining composed to testify. The move to drop him from the case was expected.
The witness' removal leaves Shanley, 73, facing three charges of raping a child and two charges of indecent assault and battery on a child. The maximum sentence would be life in prison.
About 80 prospective jurors were questioned Tuesday for the trial that is expected to last about two weeks. Four jurors - three men and one woman - were seated by midafternoon.
Shanley's lawyer has made it clear he will argue that the lone remaining accuser made up his story of abuse to win a monetary award in a civil lawsuit.
Yemen opens eyes to prevalence of child trafficking
January 19, 2005 [The Washington Times] By Peter Willems
SAN''A, Yemen -- A two-day workshop based on the first study of child trafficking in Yemen was held last weekend, representing the first public admission that children are being sent to Saudi Arabia to support their families and thus exposed to abuse.
Awareness of the issue has grown in the past year, but it has provoked disagreement about the magnitude of the problem and how many youngsters working north of the border should be considered trafficked children.
"We have fully acknowledged that this is a problem for us and appears to be growing," said Ramesh Shrestha, a Yemen-based representative of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), speaking at the opening of the forum, which brought government ministers and representatives of aid organizations together Saturday and Sunday.
"There are different issues on the definition of trafficking," he said. "Whether or not it is trafficking or illegal immigration, and there are different numbers for children being trafficked, but the basic fact is that there is a problem."
The study by Yemen's Social Affairs Ministry and UNICEF was carried out in Hajja and al Mahweet, two provinces thought to be primary sources of child trafficking, and was based on interviews and group discussions with victims, families, traffickers and government authorities.
The information gathered showed that more than 25 percent of children interviewed faced risks to their well-being, including going hungry and getting lost. The study found that some died during the journey to Saudi Arabia, and many said they had been robbed or beaten and abused by security officials. In addition, nearly 65 percent of the children trafficked did not have a place to stay and ended up living on the streets.
The most common ways of earning money by Yemeni children abroad are begging or becoming street vendors.
Research teams were not able to carry out a full assessment of sexual exploitation. But according to a woman interviewed in the survey, "Children were sexually abused even by the traffickers themselves and before they got into Saudi Arabia."
One of the reasons that child trafficking has become a lucrative business in Yemen is that many families are unaware of the hardships that their children may encounter. Most parents involved in the study said they saw no difference between child trafficking and illegal immigration to boost a family's income, and most were willing to pay a trafficker to make it possible.
The major cause of child trafficking in Yemen is poverty.
"Child trafficking is one of the bad symptoms of people suffering from poverty," said Amat al-Aleem al-Soswa, Yemen's U.S.-educated human rights minister. "If the families happened to be well-off, the parents would not have let their children go to another place and be vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. It is poverty, and we should fight it if we want a radical solution for this problem."
In the World Bank's recent report on Yemen, the country's rise in gross domestic product slowed from 4.1 percent in 2001 to 2.5 percent last year. Economic expansion is not keeping up with Yemen's population growth, one of the highest in the world.
The Population Reference Bureau, a private organization based in the United States, estimates that Yemen's population grows about 4 percent annually. Forty-two percent of Yemenis live below the poverty line, and the percentage is expected to rise unless the government hastens economic reforms.
The child-trafficking study shows that more than 60 percent of the children sent abroad are from families with eight or more members and that most of these families survive on less than $108 per month. Families said sending children to work increased income dramatically, sometimes doubling their family income.
"Saying that raising awareness in communities can solve the problem is probably not accurate," Mr. Shrestha said. "People will become aware that it is bad, but other compelling reasons -- like economic hardship -- might motivate families not to take action against child trafficking. Children sending money back to their families living in the poorer areas near the border might continue."
Family, Friends Say Goodbye To Suspected Child Abuse Victim
January 19, 2005 San Antonio
About 100 people packed a Catholic church Tuesday on the Southeast Side to pay their last respects to a 1-year-old girl who police say died suspiciously.
Four girls carried a 3-foot-long casket bearing the body of 1-year-old Clarissa Ramos into St. Margaret Mary's Catholic Church for a funeral mass.
"She was so cute," said Roxanne, the baby's cousin. "She was always so happy. She was barely learning how to walk and talk. She was really, really beautiful."
Many people at the funeral had a hard time understanding why Clarissa died the way she did.
The Bexar County Medical Examiner's Office ruled her death a homicide and the San Antonio Police Department are investigating the case as a capital murder. No arrests have been made in the case.
The girl's mother, Sindy Riojas, told KSAT 12 News she went shopping and left Clarissa in the care of her boyfriend, Robert Hernandez, the day the baby was taken to a hospital. Hernandez claimed the baby, who died of massive head injuries and other injuries, fell from a playpen.
"I just can't understand those kind of people," said Aurora Adam, a family friend. "A child is a child, and we need to protect them and take care of them as much as we can."
Clarissa's 4-year-old sister is the custody of Child Protective Services while the case is investigated.
Fugitive sex-abuse suspect held
January 19, 2005 [Reading Eagle News Staff] Berks Country, PA
A Berks County fugitive wanted for sexual abuse of a child was apprehended Tuesday night by U.S. Customs & Border Protection agents from the Department of Homeland Security at a bus station in San Diego near the Mexican border, officials said.
Richard T. Balsavage, 24, whose last known address was in Hereford Township, was arrested after agents learned he was wanted by the Pennsylvania state police.
Troopers got an arrest warrant for Balsavage from District Justice Wally Scott in March and entered his name into the FBI's National Crime Information Center after he fled Berks County. He had been sought ever since.
State police said Balsavage took pictures of a 2-year-old boy in sexually explicit poses about three years ago in Kutztown.
The pictures were discovered last year at a residence where Balsavage had been living in the 400 block of Klines Corner Road, police said.
State police Cpl. Douglas J. Bendetti said Balsavage will be returned to Berks County to face charges of sexual abuse of a child and related offenses.
Tenn. high court OKs abuse lawsuit
January 19, 2005 [Associated Press]
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – The state Supreme Court says a $68 million lawsuit alleging that the Roman Catholic diocese of Nashville covered up child sex abuse by a former priest can go forward.
The unanimous ruling issued Tuesday overturns lower courts which had said the diocese could not be held responsible for the emotional distress alleged by the plaintiffs.
The high court in its ruling said a defendant can be found guilty of inflicting emotional distress even if its misconduct was not directed at a specific person. The court said its decision broke new legal ground in such cases.
Commission makes U-turn on abuse testimony decision
January 19, 2004 Ireland
The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse is to reverse its decision to only hear testimony from a sample of the abuse victims who have come forward to the inquiry.
The Commission decided last year that it could not hear testimony from all of the 1,300 people who have made abuse allegations because it would be too costly and time-consuming.
However, reports this morning said it had now announced all the alleged victims would be interviewed by a legal team, which would then decide what cases to send forward for full hearings.
The Commission was established to investigate allegations of widespread child abuse at state-run institutions like schools and orphanages.
4 Jurors Seated In Priest Sex Abuse Trial
Potential Jurors Asked About Homosexuality, Church
January 19, 2005 [Associated Press]
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Four jurors have been seated so far to hear the child rape case against Paul Shanley, a key figure in Boston's clergy sex abuse crisis.
A man and a woman were the first chosen from a pool of about 80 people in Middlesex Superior Court Tuesday. Two other men were chosen later in the day.
Judge Stephen Neel is asking potential jurors if they have been sexually abused; their views on homosexuality; and their feelings about the Catholic Church and the Boston Archdiocese in particular.
Among the jurors selected was a man who is Catholic and does landscaping at his church.
Jury selection will resume Wednesday morning.
Prosecutors formally dropped one more of Shanley's accusers from the case Tuesday because the man can't be found.
That leaves just one 27-year-old man to testify against the defrocked priest who's charged with molesting four boys in the 1980s at Newton's Saint Jean Parish.
State's high child abuse
January 19, 2005 By Heather Low Choy
ALMOST half Tasmania's substantiated child-abuse cases involve children in intact two-parent families, a new report shows. Substantiated child abuse is where there is reasonable cause to believe harm has occurred.
Children living in traditional family units account for more of these cases in Tasmania than in any other family situation, Child Protection Australia 2003-04 reveals.
The report, released yesterday, shows 44 per cent of the state's substantiated abuse cases in the 2003-04 financial year involved children from intact families.
However, the abuse did not occur within the family in all cases.
The report was compiled by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare using data from community service departments.
Neglect was the most common form of abuse in Tasmania, accounting for more cases than physical, sexual or emotional abuse.
Forty per cent of cases involved neglect, 33 per cent physical abuse, 18 per cent sexual and nine per cent emotional abuse.
Tasmanian cases doubled to 427 in 2003-04, as documented in last year's Department of Health and Human Services annual report.
Deputy Premier David Llewellyn said that since February 2003 an extra 39 positions had been created in Child and Family Services.
Indigenous children were the subject of child-protection substantiations up to 10 times the rate of other children.
Anyone with concerns about a child's welfare can phone 1 300 737 639
Church says former bishop accused of child sexual abuse
January 19, 2005 [Associated Press]
DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) - A former bishop of the Sioux City Roman Catholic diocese was accused of child sex abuse when he was a priest in the Davenport diocese, and the Davenport diocese reached a settlement with one of the accusers, church officials said.
A report issued Tuesday by Davenport Bishop William Franklin said that there were three allegations against retired Sioux City Bishop Lawrence Soens and the diocese settled one of those allegations for $20,000 in October.
Soens was the Sioux City diocese's fifth bishop, serving from 1983 to 1998.
Soens' name did not surface publicly until now because no lawsuits were filed naming him, according to Patrick Noaker, an attorney for victims who as a group reached a $9 million settlement in October with the Davenport diocese.
Sioux City diocese spokesman Jim Wharton defended Soens and said news of the allegations "shocks and saddens all of us."
The Sioux City diocese never received complaints regarding sexual impropriety against Soens, Wharton said.
"Soens' service as shepherd of the diocese was exemplary," Wharton said. "He is a special person who has dedicated his priesthood to working and caring for others. He is a prayerful, holy man, and the people of the diocese pray for him and those who make these allegations."
Timothy Bottaro, Soens' attorney, said that Soens has denied the allegations, but that since the matter is now before church authorities, he can make no comment.
Tuesday's report summarized the Davenport diocese's investigation of sexual abuse in the past year.
It is the first time in Iowa that a bishop has been publicly accused of abuse in connection with the scandal that has exposed decades of abuse of minors by clergy.
Soens served at Davenport diocese parishes in Burlington, Victor, Charlotte and Clinton. He was an administrator at Regina High School in Iowa City, on the faculty of St. Ambrose Academy, and served as rector and on the faculty of St. Ambrose College in Davenport before becoming a bishop.
Franklin issued the report as a summary of child sexual abuse that the diocese has received since its last report on Feb. 25, 2004. An allegation against Soens was noted in that report, although he was not named. Two additional allegations against him surfaced in the past year.
The Davenport Diocese reported and the Sioux City Diocese confirmed that Soens is "completely retired and not involved in any capacity."
Soens accompanied the Rev. Roger Augustine, administrator of the Diocese of Sioux City, on a November visit to the Vatican, where the U.S. bishops met privately with Pope John Paul II and members of various Vatican offices.
Franklin said that he is in consultation with Catholic Church authorities for final resolution of the matter.
Child abuse referrals double
January 19, 2005 Australia
The number of suspected cases of child abuse, neglect or harm referred to Australian authorities has more than doubled in the past five years, new figures show.
An Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report found the number of notifications increased from 198,355 in 2002/03 to 219,384 in the 2003/04 financial year.
The latest figure represents a rise of 10.6 per cent on the previous year, but also shows notifications have more than doubled in the past five years, from 107,134 in 1999/2000.
In addition, the number of cases where there was reasonable cause to believe that harm had occurred or would occur rose in all states and territories.
Report co-author Susan Kelly from the AIHW's Children, Youth and Families Unit said some of this increase in notifications and substantiations reflected changes in child protection policies.
"However, it is also an indication of a higher level of awareness of child protection concerns in the wider community and more willingness to report problems to child protection departments," she said.
"Increased funding of child protection and community support services in general, and an increase in the number of child protection workers could also be contributing factors."
The report found the number of children in out-of-home care in Australia rose by more than 3,000 cases over the last three years.
The number of children either placed with relatives, or in foster or residential care, has increased from 18,241 in 2001 to 21,795 in June 2004.
Since 1996, the number of children in care has increased by 56 per cent, with the increases occurring right across Australia.
"About 94 per cent of all these children are living with relatives, foster carers or in some other home-based arrangement rather than in facilities such as family group homes or residential care," Ms Kelly said.
It also showed rises in the number of children on care and protection orders in all of the states and territories.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were over-represented in the child protection system.
For children on care and protection orders, the indigenous rate was 11 times that of other children and up to 12 times the rate for children in out-of-home care.
January 18, 2005
Jury selection begins in abuse trial
January 18, 2005 [Lincoln Star Journal]
By Margaret Reist
Jury selection began Tuesday in the child abuse trial of Brandy Blair, who is accused of leaving her 22-month-old child locked in an unairconditioned room for two days, where he died.
Christian Reifler was electrocuted in June, apparently by a stapler stuck into an electrical outlet. Other residents living in the house at 1907 L St. found him and called authorities.
Blair, 23, is charged with child abuse resulting in death, a crime that carries a penalty of 10 years to life in prison.
Prosecutors have said the trial is expected to last about a week.
A second felony child abuse charge, which was punishable by up to 20 years in prison, was dismissed by prosecutors at the end of last month.
Court documents have alleged that Blair put her son in an upstairs bedroom on the evening of June 7, wedging a towel in the door so he couldn't open it and wander around the house, and didn't return until June 9.
During those two days, according to the documents, she went out with friends, smoked meth and watched movies.
Four other adults were living in the house at the time.
According to the court documents, one of the residents gave Christian a glass of water on June 8, and Blair checked on him the morning of June 9, several hours before she left and the other residents found him.
The autopsy showed Christian died of electrocution and was also dehydrated and emaciated, according to the documents.
Three of the four people living in the house, including Blair's brother, have been charged with misdemeanor charges of either child abuse or failing to report child abuse.
Accused tells of decades of abuse
January 18, 2005 Lisbon, Australia
A FORMER driver for a Portuguese state-run institution at the centre of a pedophile trial, which has tainted top figures, told a court today he had over the years sexually abused 22 boys under his care.
Carlos Silvino, who also stands accused of procuring minors for wealthy child molesters for more than two decades, apologised to the victims, but insisted he had remained their friends even after the abuse took place.
"Practically no one got angry with me. I am the one who got angry with myself," he told the Lisbon court after identifying each victim and specifying the offences he committed against them.
The 22 victims were between the ages of 8 and 14 when the abuse took place.
Silvino is charged with a total of 634 offences, including 598 counts of sexual abuse of minors from Casa Pia, a Lisbon-based network of 10 homes and schools, which looks after some 4000 troubled or orphaned children.
Last month he told the court he had for years delivered boys from the more than two century old institution, at their request, to several of the other six accused in the high-profile trial.
Silvino, who has told the court he was sexually abused himself while under the care of Casa Pia as a child, is the first of the seven accused to take the stand in the trial which has gripped Portugal since it began in November.
His testimony is seen as key in the case against the other accused, including television personality Carlos Cruz, whose career spans three decades, and former ambassador to South Africa Jorge Ritto.
A former director of Casa Pia, Manuel Abrantes, is also among the accused, as is a 62-year-old woman who is charged with providing her home so that the sexual encounters could take place.
Mr Abrantes, who maintains he is innocent, said Silvino's confession was "very serious".
"For this to have taken place, someone had to have closed their eyes," he told reporters as he left the courthouse for a lunch break.
The scandal began in September 2002 after the mother of a boy who attended classes at a Casa Pia school told police her son had been raped by Silvino while on a field trip.
A subsequent investigation uncovered allegations of decades of sexual abuse at the institution. More than 100 children currently at Casa Pia show signs of having been abused, social workers say.
The case has shattered public trust in the authorities, especially after reports surfaced that children had complained about being abused since the mid-1970s, including to a former Portuguese president, butt no one had acted.
Jury Selection To Start In Shanley Sex Abuse Trial
January 18, 2005 [The Boston Channel]
Decades after he allegedly molested young boys at a church in Newton, Mass., defrocked priest Paul Shanley is going to trial. Jury selection begins Tuesday.
NewsCenter 5's Gail Huff reported that Shanley, 73, is free on bail and it is not known whether he will be present for jury selection.
Shanley was arrested three years ago in San Diego and charged with several counts of rape of a child and assault and battery for alleged crimes that occurred while he was at St. Jean's Parish in Newton. The case began with four accusers but is going to trial with only one. The plaintiff's name is not being revealed. The most vocal accuser, Gregory Ford, [pictured right] was dropped because prosecutors feared his medical history could hurt the case against Shanley. His father, Rodney Ford, said he hopes the former Catholic priest is convicted and goes to jail.
All four boys told similar stories of being taken out of religious education classes by Shanley and raped in the confessional, restroom and church rectory. Prosecutors dropped three of the accusers before the trial.
Shanley allegedly abused more than 12 young boys during his career as a Roman Catholic priest in the Boston archdiocese, but the statute of limitations made it impossible to prosecute most of the cases because they took place so long ago. Because Shanley moved out of state, however, the clock stopped on some of the cases, allowing prosecutors to charge him with sexual abuse that took place between 1979 and 1989.
Shanley became one of the more well-known clergy sex abuse figures because he was a flamboyant "street priest" and youth worker in the 1970s who garnered publicity for his work with homeless teens. Internal church documents showed that archdiocese officials knew of sex abuse complaints against Shanley dating back to 1967, including reports that he advocated sex between men and boys, but they refused to deal with the issue, instead transferring him from parish to parish, including the Newton church.
Shanley has denied ever raping anyone. He was defrocked by the Vatican (news - web sites) in Feburary 2004.
The archdiocese has already paid more than $85 million to more than 500 accusers who sued the church and won a large settlement.
Shanley's lawyer said he will argue that the accusers made up the abuse stories in order to collect monetary settlements from the archdiocese.
Because the clergy sex abuse cases have been so widely publicized, the judge has allotted at least four days for jury selection with the expectation it will be difficult to put a panel together. The trial is expected to take two weeks.
Murder and Suicide Reviving Claims of Child Abuse in Cult
January 15, 2005 [NY Times]
By Laurie Goodstein
Ricky Rodriguez, the son of a leader of the Children of God, showed off weapons in a videotape he made the night before he killed his former nanny and himself. On the tape he said he had "a need for revenge."
Growing up in the 1970's in a religious cult known around the world as the Children of God, Ricky Rodriguez was revered as "the prince." The group's leaders were his mother and stepfather, and they taught that their son would guide them all when the End Times came.
He was so special that his unconventional upbringing - by a collection of often-topless young nannies - was chronicled in "The Davidito Book," which was distributed to cult members as a how-to guide for rearing children. And children the cult had in multitudes.
Last Saturday in Tucson, Mr. Rodriguez, now 29, invited a former nanny, Angela Smith, to go to dinner. He took Ms. Smith to his apartment, stabbed her to death, went to his Chevrolet, drove west across the California border to a small desert town, Blythe, and called his wife on his cellphone to explain why he had killed Ms. Smith, the police in both states and Mr. Rodriguez's wife said.
Then with one shot from a semiautomatic handgun, the police said, he ended his life.
The group lives on. What was known as a 60's cult that attracted members like the parents of the actor River Phoenix and Jeremy Spencer, the Fleetwood Mac guitarist, is now called the Family International.
A spokesman in Washington, Claire Borowik, described the organization as a Christian fellowship with 4,000 children and 4,000 adult members who lived in 718 communal houses in 100 countries. The group sends aid workers and missionaries to disasters like the recent tsunami. Its musical troupe, the Family Singers, have at various times sung in the White House.
But Mr. Rodriguez's murder-suicide is reviving accusations by former members about routine physical, emotional and sexual abuse that they say they experienced as children.
There is evidence of the practices in documents that the cult's leaders consider so damaging that they acknowledge they twice sent out "purge notices" to their followers with explicit directions about which pages to burn, which photographs to white-out and which to excise with Exacto knives.
Mr. Rodriguez recorded a videotape the night before he killed Ms. Smith and committed suicide. The video, which was provided to The New York Times by Mr. Rodriguez's wife, was taped in his apartment in Tucson and shows him loading a gun and showing off other weapons.
He said he saw himself as a vigilante avenging children like him and his sisters who had been subject to rapes and beatings.
"There's this need that I have," he said. "It's not a want. It's a need for revenge. It's a need for justice, because I can't go on like this."
Mr. Rodriguez is not the only suicide among people reared in the Children of God. Some former members who keep in touch with one another through a Web site, movingon.org, say that in the last 13 years at least 25 young people reared in the cult have committed suicide.
In response to questions, the Family strongly insisted in an e-mail message from Ms. Borowik that the formers members were intentionally inflating the count by including accidents, overdoses and people who are alive.
For the Family International, the latest murder-suicide threatens to revive a past that Ms. Borowik said she thought the organization had put behind it. The Family announced in 1986 that it had changed its guidelines and would excommunicate anyone who had sexual contact with children, she said.
The group survived investigations into child abuse in Argentina, Australia, France and Spain in the 90's. Although some members were briefly jailed, there were no convictions of top leaders.
Ms. Borowik attributed Mr. Rodriguez's crime not to his past, but to his current "peers." She said that when he left the group in 2000, he came in contact with former members who are "virulent vitriolic apostates, which we have a small circle of, who want to do damage to our movement."
They failed to point him in "positive directions," she said.
Mr. Rodriguez's mother, Karen Zerby, known as the Queen or Mama Maria, still leads the Family. Her whereabouts and travel schedule are kept secret, even from most group members, Ms. Borowik said, "because of her spiritual ministry to so many people."
Ms. Zerby refused an interview request submitted to Ms. Borowik.
January 17, 2005
Recent Iowa cases involving child porn
January 17, 2005 [Register News Services]
Here are a few examples of child pornography cases in Iowa last year, culled from incidents reported in The Des Moines Register:
• Lauralei Lutgen, 27, of Dubuque was arrested last month over allegations that she violated restrictions placed on her after she had been charged with child sex abuse. She had been ordered to disconnect her home Internet service, but authorities said they found both an Internet connection and a pornographic Web site on a computer in her home. Lutgen originally was charged with having sex with a 15-year-old boy, and allowing an 11-year-old girl and a 13-year-old boy to view pornography and encouraging them to have sex with each other.
• Ronald Dean Meyer, 35, owner of Strang Tire Co. in Oelwein, last month was sentenced to almost three years in federal prison after admitting that he knowingly possessed videotapes showing children younger than 18 engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
• Jerry Orman Whicker, 22, of Albia last fall was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for making child pornography. Whicker pleaded guilty to accusations that he videotaped young girls engaged in sexually explicit conduct and sold the images, which were stored on his home computer.
• Gerald Leroy Vick II, 42, of Stanwood, a former counselor for juvenile sexual offenders, was sentenced in October to 33 months in federal prison for possession of child pornography stored on more than 10 computer disks.
• Also in October, Scott Sweet, 44, of Spirit Lake was sentenced to 14 years in prison for coercing a girl younger than 16 into sexually explicit conduct. Federal authorities said that from November 2001 to early 2002, Sweet posed as a teenage boy on the Internet and persuaded the girl to send him sexually explicit pictures of herself. Sweet also admitted that in December 2001 he secretly filmed another minor girl as she took a shower in his bathroom.
• Dieter C. Gensch, 48, of West Des Moines in October was sentenced to 27 months in federal prison for possession of child pornography. Gensch admitted he was a member of an online group that exchanged child pornography.
• Leslie Ulric Beal, 52, a former custodian at a Marshall County elementary school, last fall was sentenced to almost two years in prison for possessing mail-order videotapes of child pornography while he worked for the Green Mountain-Garwin school district. He was arrested after he was seen destroying documents and photographs.
• Brian Bassett, 22, of Marion last summer was sentenced to 71/2 years in prison for possession of child pornography and interstate transportation of child pornography.
• Vicente Rosal Abad Jr., 25, of Hialeah, Fla., pleaded guilty in February of sexual exploitation of a child. Authorities said he traveled to Milford, Ia., the summer before to have sex with a girl younger than 16. He filmed the girl as she engaged in sexually explicit conduct with him, according to the U.S. attorney's office.
• Last January, the Rev. Richard Poster, the former director of liturgy for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Davenport, was sentenced to a year in prison for downloading child pornography on the computer he used to publish a church newspaper.
Woman made her child sick for attention
January 17, 2005 [Associated Press]
OSHKOSH, Wis. - A woman who admitted she deliberately made her 1-year-old son sick so everyone would care about her and the boy pleaded no contest to one count of felony child abuse.
Jessica L. Cuevas, 22, faces up to 15 years in prison after a Winnebago County Circuit judge accepted her plea last week.
According to a criminal complaint, Oshkosh police officers responded to Aurora Medical Center in August on suspicion of abuse after Cuevas brought her son in for treatment.
Cuevas told police she first brought her son to another hospital that month and received prescription medication for the boy, who was red and feverish, the complaint said. She allegedly said she mixed the medication with cough medicine prescribed to someone else so the child would get sick.
Cuevas said she purposely made the child sick so everyone, including the child's father, would care about her and her son, the complaint said.
It said she told police she had previously let her child's health diminish to the point of hospitalization twice before.
The child is now in protective custody.
A sentencing hearing was scheduled for March 17.
T or C Man Charged with Child Abuse
January 16, 2005
A Truth or Consequences man is being held in jail on child abuse charges, following the death of his daughter.
The child bears signs of severe physical abuse, injuries which "proved to be fatal," New Mexico State Police Spokesman Jimmy Glascock said.
In custody is Ruben Garcia, who is 24. State police officers obtained an arrest warrant for Garcia and arrested him Saturday morning at the Western Inn Hotel in Las Cruces.
Garcia's girlfriend, Sammi Luna, the child's mother, returned to their apartment in Truth or Consequences and found 3-week-old child unresponsive. Luna took the girl to Sierra Vista hospital, but the baby died prior to their arrival.
Huge child porn bust shocks Ottawa police
January 17, 2005
Ottawa police say they've uncovered some of the worst acts of child sexual abuse they've ever seen.
In the biggest child pornography bust in the history of the Ottawa police service, eight Ottawa men are facing charges of accessing and distributing images over the Internet of very young children engaged in sexual acts.
Sgt. Sandra McLaren said those acts include newborns to children only a few years old.
CTV's Ottawa affiliate, CJOH, reports that even seasoned officers were shaken by the images.
"It's one of shock, really. People think of pornography and nobody gets very excited about [it] anymore," Insp. Phil Lockett told CJOH.
"But this is more than pornography, this is child abuse. And to have young kids involved in some of these sexual acts on film is kind of hard to take."
The police service's high tech crimes unit began investigating the case after being tipped off by the RCMP National Child Exploitation Centre.
Search warrants netted computers, CDs and DVDs containing tens of thousands of child pornography images and movies from eight homes in Ottawa.
Police say this is a global problem, but the search is on to find whether any of the young victims are from Ottawa.
Sgt. McLaren told CJOH: "We've just started the forensic analysis on the media that we've seized, and certainly we will be looking at those images to try and determine if any of them have been created locally or involve children who are being abused are in our community here in Ottawa."
Authorities add that it was not a child pornography ring, noting there is no connection among those charged. But the investigation is ongoing and more charges may be on the way
School district knew about teacher abuse complaints, newspaper says
January 17, 2005 [Associated Press]
SALEM — Salem-Keizer School District officials were told years ago about a band teacher suspected of inappropriate behavior with female students, according to the Statesman Journal.
The Salem newspaper obtained documents that showed parents had concerns at least four years before Houck Middle School teacher Joe Billera was arrested last October and charged with sex abuse.
Billera, 30, recently pleaded guilty to sexually abusing four former students, beginning a few months after he was hired in 1997. He also admitted having sex with at least one of the girls. Sentencing is set for Wednesday. He resigned from his job Jan. 6.
The school district, however, never placed Billera on leave, never hired an independent investigator and never reported the complaints to the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission — all standard procedure when a teacher is accused of serious misconduct, according to the newspaper.
Billera was disciplined after one flurry of complaints in fall 2001. District officials said that teacher privacy rules prevent them from disclosing the discipline, but it did not involve any time away from the classroom.
Some parents told the Statesman Journal their concerns were ignored or mishandled and they fault the district for failing to piece together what now appears to be a pattern of inappropriate behavior.
"They were overlooking it because he was such a good teacher,'' parent Tim Haburn said. "This has been going on for years.''
The Statesman Journal filed an appeal of a school district decision not to disclose details of complaints against Billera.
Citing Oregon public records law, Marion County District Attorney Walt Beglau ordered the district to make some of the documents public.
A review of the documents, along with interviews, showed that a number of parents complained about an incident in late 2000, when a 13-year-old student was sitting on Billera's lap, with a blanket wrapped around the pair, at a school sporting event.
A year later, in notes of a telephone conversation with a concerned parent, then-employee relations director George Gray wrote, "I told (the parent) that the matter had been investigated; that it is not appropriate for student to sit on teacher's lap.''
However, the district has no other record of the complaints or of any investigation, said Joe Weiss, the district's human resources director.
The district disciplined Billera in late 2001 after several students said he had threatened them for gossiping about his close relationship with the same 13-year-old girl.
In a written complaint to former Houck Middle School Principal Pat Mack, Robert Ogan, the parent of one of the threatened students, said he thought that the gossip was based on fact.
The documents show that Ogan also discussed his concerns with Gray, Superintendent Kay Baker, and Mark Davalos, who then was assistant director of secondary education.
Davalos and Gray no longer work for the district. Mack, who retired in 2003, could not be reached for comment.
Baker wrote a letter to Ogan saying that she had referred his concerns to Weiss.
But Weiss said that no one at the district had knowledge police were investigating Billera until after he was arrested.
Billera was director of the award-winning Houck band program for seven years, developing one of the largest and best middle school band programs in the state. He also was assistant director of the North High band program, and assisted with McNary's band program.
Billera won the Crystal Apple Award for teaching excellence in 2001 and was chosen as the 2002 Music Educator of the Year by the Oregon Symphony Association of Salem.
He worked for the University of Oregon School of Music band camp for grades eight through 12, serving as recreation and housing director.
Billera has been married for five years, with a young son and another child on the way.
Billera has been in jail since his arrest Oct. 29. He initially was on suicide watch, and at his request currently is in protective custody, meaning that he is isolated from other inmates.
In late December, under a plea agreement, Billera admitted to 10 of the 15 charges in exchange for a sentence of six to 12 years. The maximum sentence is 53 years.
Deputy District Attorney Darin Tweedt said he will try to persuade the judge to impose a longer sentence. If the judge agrees, Billera could choose to change his plea and request a trial.
Trial of priest at center of clergy sex abuse scandal set to begin
January 17, 2005 [Associated Press] By Denise Lavoie
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) -- He's 73 now, and unrecognizable as the hip "street priest" known more than 30 years ago for wearing long hair and blue jeans, and reaching out to Boston's troubled youth.
Paul Shanley is a senior citizen now, frail-looking with thinning white hair and deep lines in his face. His has become perhaps the most recognizable face of the clergy sexual abuse crisis that has shaken the Roman Catholic Church for the past three years.
This week, Shanley goes on trial on child rape charges in one of a handful of criminal cases in which prosecutors have been able to bring against priests accused of sexually abusing children decades ago.
Most of the priests accused in civil lawsuits have avoided criminal prosecution because the alleged crimes were committed so long ago that charges were barred by the statute of limitations. But because Shanley moved out of Massachusetts, the clock stopped, allowing prosecutors to arrest Shanley in May 2002 for sexual abuse that allegedly took place between 1979 and 1989.
Shanley became one of the most notorious figures in the clergy sex scandal after internal church documents were released showing church officials knew about abuse complaints against him as early as 1967 and knew that he advocated sex between men and boys, yet they continued to transfer him from parish to parish.
Prosecutors started out with four alleged victims in the criminal case. All four men said they were sexually abused by Shanley at St. Jean's parish in Newton when they were children. They told similar stories of being taken out of religious education classes and raped by Shanley, in the church rectory, confessional and restroom.
But prosecutors dropped two of the alleged victims from the case and plan to drop a third before trial, leaving only one accuser in the case.
Shanley's lawyer, Frank Mondano, has made it clear he will argue that the man made up his story of abuse to win a monetary award in a civil lawsuit.
The man, along with the other three victims originally in the criminal case, settled civil lawsuits with the Boston Archdiocese in April 2004. The exact monetary terms were not disclosed, but an attorney for the men has said each received more than $300,000. That was the maximum settlement received by 550 other alleged abuse victims received in an $85 million settlement reached with the archdiocese in September 2003.
Prosecutors have asked Judge Stephen Neel to bar Shanley's defense from introducing evidence of the civil settlement. The judge has not yet ruled on the request.
Shanley's defense also plans to challenge the man's claims of repressed memories. The man said he did not remember the abuse until after the clergy scandal erupted in Boston three years ago.
Mondano plans to call Elizabeth Loftus, a well-known psychologist who has challenged the reliability of recovered memory, to testify at the trial.
J.W. Carney Jr., a former prosecutor who is now a Boston defense attorney, said it will be difficult for prosecutors to overcome a general skepticism about repressed memories.
"The whole theory of repressed memory is quite dubious," he said. "It lacks fundamental scientific support. It also is counterintuitive to what jurors' own experiences have been. Even though we might forget details of traumatic things we've been through, we do not completely forget the traumatic experience itself."
The notoriety of the clergy scandal and Shanley's own notoriety may make picking a jury difficult. Neel has set aside four days for jury selection, beginning Tuesday.
"This is one of those cases where it will be next to impossible to find a jury that hasn't heard about it," said David Yas, editor of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly.
"It will be a very delicate situation in choosing jurors because they will be colored by the reports they've seen in the past. These potential jurors, most of them, have seen Paul Shanley's face on the news ... and it's hard to think that many potential jurors won't presume him guilty."
The defense has asked the judge to instruct the jury that there have been no other judicial rulings against Shanley. But Assistant District Attorney Lynn Rooney has objected, citing the money the Boston Archdiocese paid to settle civil lawsuits in which Shanley was accused of sexual abuse. She also note that he was defrocked by the Vatican in February 2004.
Neel said he was inclined to give the jury a general direction not to speculate about whether there are other cases against Shanley.
The trial is expected to last about two weeks
Advocate for children in the court system
Jan 17, 2005 [Daily Oakland Press] By Natalie Lombardo
Julie Bush is not only a confidant to abused children, she is their voice. Bush is an advocate for children in the court system because their parents can't or won't protect them or provide them with basic needs.
Her responsibilities are to investigate abuse cases, identify resources and services for the children, monitor whether court orders are being carried out and speak for the youngsters while attending all hearings.
"It's grueling. Many of the children's situations are very tragic. But I deal with it by helping them," said Bush of Beverly Hills. "I know what goes on, and I couldn't sit back with my arms crossed and do nothing."
Bush does this on her own time, as a volunteer court-appointed special advocate for the Child Abuse and Neglect Council of Oakland County.
The council is seeking more courageous people, like Bush, to work with children in its programs.
On Jan. 25, the council will host a Volunteer Call for Action Day from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. at CARE House, 44765 Woodward Ave., Pontiac. The day will involve informational sessions, evaluations and training.
At CARE House, the council works closely with area law enforcement, judicial and social services agencies to ease children though the unfamiliar process that may follow allegations of abuse or neglect.
"Our volunteers play a vital role in every aspect of what we do here - from greeting the children when they enter our doors, and working with our staff in our nurturing programs, to supporting children through the court system," said Laurie Walters, director of volunteers for the council.
Walters said about 40 volunteers are needed, primarily child advocates and child assistants.
Bush is also a child assistant. When the children come to CARE House for forensic interviews, Bush comforts and plays with them while their parents must leave the room to be questioned.
"We try to cheer them up and keep their mind off of the trauma," Bush said. "It's very fulfilling because I can help, even if it's in a small way."
Bush has been a volunteer at CARE House for a year and a half and also helps Meals on Wheels.
The council has seven programs that aid families in physical and emotional recovery and provide support to children who need to go through the court system.
"The bottom line is about wanting to help kids," Walters said. "The volunteers' assistance, giving and commitment go a long way in building up the trust that the children and their families may have lost and allows them to feel safe again."
If you go to help, come to the Volunteer Call for Action Day from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Jan. 25 at CARE House, 44765 Woodward Ave., Pontiac. For information, call (248) 332-7173
Future of N.H. church abuse settlement heads to court
January 16, 2005
By J.M. Hirsch Associated Press Writer
CONCORD, N.H.— Discord over evaluating the child protection policies of the state's Roman Catholic diocese has grown so acrimonious the agreement calling for the evaluation could be voided.
That has both sides eager to persuade a judge the deal can be saved.
If they fail, the state could find itself litigating an onerous case with little guarantee of success, while the diocese could earn the distinction of being the first in the nation to face criminal charges stemming from the child sex abuse scandal.
Annual audits for five years are required by a 2002 agreement between the church and state that ended a criminal investigation of whether diocesan officials knew members of the clergy were abusing children but failed to protect them.
At issue now is the scope of the audit and who will pay for it. The church wants the state to cover the bill and the evaluation to be limited mostly to paperwork. The state says the church should pay and wants a wide-ranging evaluation.
The dispute began just months after the church and state reached the then unprecedented deal in which prosecutors agreed not to seek criminal indictments against the church.
In exchange, the diocese agreed to enact strict new child protection policies, admit its actions had harmed children, open itself to audits and admit it probably would have been convicted had the case gone to trial.
The agreement did not specify who would pay for the audits, however, and the parties have wildly different takes on what sort of audit would satisfy the terms of the agreement.
In September, the dispute landed before Hillsborough County Superior Court Judge Carol Conboy, who said the interpretations were so divergent she questioned whether there was any agreement at all.
She ordered both sides to explain why she shouldn't void the agreement. A hearing on the definition of a contract and whether the agreement constitutes one is scheduled for Thursday.
The church abuse scandal erupted in Boston in early 2002. It quickly spread to the rest of the nation, including New Hampshire, where John McCormack - a former top aide to Boston Cardinal Bernard Law - was bishop.
During the next few years, the New Hampshire diocese paid millions of dollars in settlements as hundreds of people came forward accusing clergymen of sexual abuse.
The state's investigation was prompted by allegations that the church knew about some of the abuse and covered it up. Most of the allegations are from the 1960s and 1970s, long before McCormack's tenure.
Since the agreement, McCormack - who also was the subject of criticism from his time in Boston - has admitted making mistakes, and has instituted tough new policies in New Hampshire, where he was named bishop in 1998.
In briefs filed last week, both sides had harsh words for the other's interpretation of how the agreement should be carried out.
Associate Attorney General Ann Larney called the diocese's version indefensible and preposterous. The church sees the audit mostly as a review of policies and documents; the state seeks broad access to interview diocesan personnel.
"The diocese now seeks to continue the environment of secrecy and avoidance by claiming that the audit provision is narrow and superficial, with the state only allowed to measure compliance by looking at written policies and procedures but no opportunity to look into whether they work or are effective," Larney wrote.
The agreement says the audit "may include, without limitation, the inspection of records and the interview of diocesan personnel."
The diocese believes the scope of the state's proposed audit goes well beyond what it agreed to and would be so intrusive it would be unconstitutional, diocesan lawyer David Vicinanzo said.
"The diocese, mindful of these limits and presuming state compliance with the law, agreed to an audit to assess its compliance with its obligations under the agreement. The diocese did not, and the state could not, agree to an audit of the scope" proposed, he wrote.
In comparison, money seems less of a sticking point. Though initial church estimates said the audits would cost around $1 million, in an interview last week Larney said negotiations with the auditing firm have cut that to about $445,000. That includes scaling back the audit from five years to four.
While the state originally said the church, as the target of a criminal investigation, should pay the bill, Larney said the state would consider splitting it. The diocese has argued the state must pay.
Thursday's hearing will include a group of Catholics who have been critical of the church's handling of the abuse crisis.
The group, led by Anne Coughlin, asked the judge to make them interveners in the case, arguing that as members and victims of the church they have an interest in the outcome. Though Conboy has not ruled, she plans to let them speak during the hearing.
Coughlin says the group hasn't decided what it will say in court, but felt it was vital to have the opportunity.
"When it seemed to become a question of whether they are going to do this, that was worrying. This agreement means a lot to people," she said. "To know there is some danger of losing the whole thing is a matter of grave concern."
January 15, 2005
Child Abuse Task Force Reveals Findings
Salt Lake City [KSL News]
After months of investigation and study, the Utah Child Abuse Prevention Task Force has finished it's work.
The Utah Child Abuse Prevention Task Force is delivering its findings today. Members of the task force include political figures, medical professionals, and citizens like Lillian Miller who has two children that were abused while in daycare. Miller says, "Once there's a victim, everybody becomes a victim, and I just would not want this to happen to anybody else."
Task force Co-Chair Doctor Edward Clark says all those working against child abuse must work together better to prevent child abuse from happening. "It is first for the citizens of Utah to support al Utah parents to raise safe, healthy, and successful children."
The committee is also urging lawmakers to enact what they call a Kids' Action Plan. The plan includes seven points, and committee members say if they are implemented they would prevent abuse from happening.
Utah Legislators say they have bills currently being drafted to re-organize the Utah Children's Trust Fund, which will be open to all organizations working to prevent child abuse.
Effects of child abuse can linger forever
By Cynthia Beaudette [Muscatine Journal]
MUSCATINE, Iowa - On Dec. 19, 2004, a Muscatine toddler went from living the life of a 2-year-old girl to becoming a grim statistic in Muscatine's record books.
Melinda Enriquez's daughter, Leeanna Garcia-Enriquez, died of injuries sustained during an alleged beating that day. Leeanna's sister, 3-year-old Breeanna, was also injured. She remains hospitalized in Iowa City.
Enriquez's boyfriend at the time, Angel Garcia-Miranda, 22, awaits trial in the Muscatine County Jail after being charged with first-degree murder and willful injury.
According to the Iowa Department of Human Services, Muscatine County ranked 12th among Iowa's 99 counties in confirmed cases of child abuse with 343 cases in 2003.
The reason for the county's higher numbers isn't clear. However, one thing is certain: the effects of the abuse don't end when the abuse stops. Society also pays a price for the mistreatment of our nation's youngest residents.
Effects on the child
How and how much young children remember about incidents of violence is not easy to determine because children don't always have the capacity to articulate or communicate their feelings.
"It varies by child," said Rachel Riley-Smock, program supervisor of the Sexual Assault Domestic Abuse Advocacy Program and Domestic Abuse Advocacy Shelter. "Some people have memories of when they are 3 years old, others repress those memories."
But witnessing abuse impacts a child of any age.
"Small children are very aware of tension and constant uneasiness," said Riley-Smock. "And they are very responsive to the emotions of others."
Children who have experienced domestic violence respond in a variety of ways as time goes by.
"What we talk about in domestic violence is post-traumatic stress," said Riley-Smock, who has been working with the victims of abuse for 16 years. "The stress that comes from living in a war zone."
Riley-Smock said children who have been exposed to domestic violence tend to be on guard and constantly vigilant as to what may happen, whether they were physically or emotionally abused.
"Some become withdrawn and don't speak," said Riley-Smock. "There's a lot of shame associated with domestic violence."
Emotions that can arise from witnessing acts of abuse include a sense of guilt, because the child could not stop the act. Other children may wonder why they survived when a sibling did not, Riley-Smock said.
"Some children don't sleep well, they may have learning problems and some kids act out," said Riley-Smock.
Child abuse and crime
The long-term effects of child abuse can take on many forms, including an increased risk of becoming involved in criminal activity as a teen.
Prevent Child Abuse Iowa officials refer to a 1996 study using juvenile and criminal court records from a Midwestern city. The study compared 908 children who were abused from 1967-71 to 667 children from that same city who had not been abused.
Criminal records of the two groups in both 1988 and 1994 showed 27 percent of abused children were arrested for juvenile offenses, compared to 17 percent of the children who had not been abused.
The financial costs
Not only does child abuse and domestic violence harm young victims, research shows an economic impact that affects most Americans
According to a 2001 report from Prevent Child Abuse America, agencies in the United States spends about $94 billion annually in response to child abuse, which amounts to $1,461.66 per family per year and about $258 million each day.
That report, based on information provided by the U.S. Census Bureau and the federal departments of Health and Human Services, Justice, and others, also estimates the U.S. spends more than $24.3 billion annually on the direct effects of child abuse, with $14 billion going to the child welfare system.
Hope in the numbers?
Although Muscatine County has a high proportion of child abuse reported compared to most other Iowa counties, the numbers may reveal some hopeful news.
Stephen Scott, executive director of Prevent Child Abuse Iowa, said officials have looked at the poverty rate and the number of people who use methamphetamine and didn't find either of these sub groups to have high enough numbers to account for the relatively high number of reported and confirmed cases of child abuse.
Scott said the high rate could be a reflection of the number of people willing to report suspected cases of abuse. Scott said Muscatine-area residents may feel more of a connectedness with their community and believe something will be done if they do make a report.
"One reason is the agency itself," said Scott, referring to the DHS. "They may be seen as more responsive and people may report abuse more often." Scott said local law-enforcement agencies are also key in gaining the public's confidence when it comes to believing there will be a response to reports.
"I'd like to think all the work we've done on awareness has led to more people reporting domestic violence," said Riley-Smock. "People know there is help out there and the local law-enforcement agencies will respond."
Scott said most cases of abuse are linked to neglect and about 13 to 14 percent of reports refer to physical abuse.
How to help
Scott said there are more ways people can make their communities safer for children.
"Let's say a next-door neighbor seems stressed with the role of parenting," said Scott. "Offering a listening ear or shoulder to lean on can be as important as a call later on."
When physical violence is observed or a child appears to have been assaulted, these instances should be reported, Scott said.
Riley-Smock said it's important to remember that domestic violence can occur in any home.
"It can happen to anyone of any religion, age or sexual orientation," said Riley-Smock. "It happens to the strongest and most intelligent women. Unfortunately, the children are always the ones who suffer."
Contact Cynthia Beaudette at:563-263-2331 Ext. 323 firstname.lastname@example.org
A list of resources and contacts in the Louisa and Muscatine County area for prevention and reporting of child abuse:
Prevent Child Abuse Iowa: 800-237-1815
Family Resources Crisis Hotline: 563-288-0220
Department of Human Services, Muscatine County: 563-263-9302
Department of Human Services, Louisa County 319-754-4622 (or toll free 1-800-423-4724 to Des Moines County DHS or call Muscatine County DHS)
Healthy Families, referral information: 1-800-369-2229
Suspected child abuse can be reported by calling 1-800-362-2178
Child rapist gets 15 years
January 15, 2005 [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]
By Torsten Ove
Richard Carroll, of Grove City, was sentenced yesterday to nearly 15 years in prison for sexually abusing an 11-year-old girl with the help of her drug-addicted mother.
But before Senior U.S. District Judge William Standish imposed the 175-month term, a prosecutor revealed yet another twist in an already twisted tale of rape and child pornography in which three adults preyed on the girl in Penn Hills and Sharpsburg.
When Carroll was in jail in July 2003, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Tina Miller, another inmate said Carroll tried to hire him to kill the girl, her foster mother and other witnesses.
The inmate said Carroll handed him a piece of paper with the girl's name and address and offered him $18,000 for the murder. Authorities had to move the family to another house.
For the girl, now 16, it was one more torment in a life of abuse that once nearly ended with a suicide attempt as the case wound through court.
"The child victim has touched all of our hearts; she's really one of the bravest people I've ever met," said Miller, a veteran sex-crimes prosecutor. "This child has had to fight her entire life for everything she has ... The beautiful years of her life were taken from her by her mother and Mr. Carroll."
Miller, whom Carroll had previously threatened to murder, ripped into him as someone with "no redeeming qualities whatsoever" and ridiculed his "crocodile tears" in pleading for mercy before the judge.
Carroll, 39, said he suffers from mental problems but told the judge he felt remorse.
"I just feel bad in general," he said. "I hope you're lenient."
The term was not the maximum Miller asked for, but it was more than federal Public Defender Penn Hackney requested. The debate was more convoluted than usual because of the decision this week by the U.S. Supreme Court to make federal sentencing guidelines advisory rather than mandatory, allowing judges more discretion.
The sentence ends one of the most disturbing child-abuse cases prosecuted in recent years in U.S. District Court here.
Last year, the girl testified during a sentencing hearing for her mother, Sharon Dorsch, that her mother stood by and did nothing while Carroll sexually assaulted her over a two-year period beginning in 2000. Dorsch, a 44-year-old cocaine addict from Penn Hills, got the maximum of three years in prison.
In April, she and Carroll had pleaded guilty.
Their former landlord in Penn Hills, Gerald E. Goebert, 50, who had a conviction for sexually abusing his stepdaughter, also was part of the case. He was released in March after serving 27 months in prison for possession of nude photos of Dorsch's daughter, which he got from Carroll.
Carroll sexually abused the girl at a house on Howard Street in Penn Hills by drugging her with Dorsch's Valium pills, forcing her to have sex with him and making her watch him have sex with Dorsch.
He also took nude photos of the girl at a Sharpsburg apartment where he sometimes stayed.
Dorsch allowed the abuse to go on and even told the girl to cooperate because, she said, she was addicted to drugs and was herself being abused by Carroll.
Authorities first became involved with Carroll and Dorsch in 2001, when she called Penn Hills police to ask that Carroll be removed from her house because he was abusive. She obtained an emergency protection-from-abuse order to keep him away from the house. When he came back, officers arrested him.
Later the FBI and U.S. postal inspectors started investigating.
Carroll had lived with Dorsch off-and-on from 1999 through 2001. During that time, Carroll abused the girl repeatedly with Dorsch's help.
The abuse ended in August 2001 after Carroll raped the girl in the bathroom, beat her and threatened to kill her if she told anyone.
Miller told the judge yesterday that the girl is an "extraordinary person." After Dorsch gave birth to a child fathered by Carroll, Dorsch was too strung out on drugs to raise the baby, so the girl essentially took over the role as parent.
She is now in school, has a part-time job and is planning to go to college.
Last year, Miller said she asked her if she could ever forgive her mother. She told the judge the girl told her, "Right now, I can't forgive her. But someday I hope I can."
More abuse allegations surface against priest
January 14, 2005 Fairbanks, AK [News Miner]
By CHRIS TALBOTT
Three more men have stepped forward with allegations of sexual abuse against the Rev. Francis X. Nawn.
The attorney for Jack Does 2-4 filed a civil suit Thursday in Bethel Superior Court seeking damages from the Fairbanks Diocese for allowing Nawn, who is believed to be deceased, to prey on children as he ministered in Southwestern Alaska.
Jack Doe 1 came forward last month with abuse allegations against Nawn and another deceased Jesuit priest, the Rev. Segundo Llorente. Jack Does 2-4 accuse only Nawn. The defendants in the suit are the Catholic Bishop of Northern Alaska; the Society of Jesus, Oregon Province; and the Society of Jesus, Alaska.
"I just sort of think this is like all the rest," said Bishop Donald Kettler, who wasn't contacted by the victims prior to the filing of the suit. "We're trying to work with as many as we need to. We're trying to treat everyone fairly and justly."
The three new complaints bring the number of people claiming abuse in the sprawling Fairbanks Diocese to 59. Four priests--Nawn, Llorente, James Poole and Jules Convert--face accusations from 23 people. Only Poole, 81, is still alive. He lives in Spokane, Wash.
Another man, Joseph C. Lundowski, a likely deceased church volunteer with a disputed history, is accused by 34 men of the most serious sexual abuse.
Fourteen of the 18 men accusing Convert of abuse have settled with the Jesuit's Oregon Province, while two have settled with the Fairbanks Diocese. And Patricia Hess, who accused Poole of abuse, settled with the diocese and never filed a legal claim.
Terms of the settlements haven't been disclosed, though attorney Ken Roosa said the Oregon Province agreed to pay for the college education of some of the children of Convert accusers in addition to a cash payment. Jack Does 1-4 are asking for damages of $100,000 on each claim. Roosa and attorneys who represent a victim customarily receive a percentage of any settlement or trial jury award.
Groseclose said church officials have met with about seven of those claiming abuse. Jack Doe 1 has a meeting with Kettler later this month.
"Now that there are three new Jack Does, we can extend an invitation to them," said attorney Robert Groseclose, who represents the diocese.
Roosa, an Anchorage-based lawyer who represents 58 of the 59 people making claims, said previous meetings have been disappointing for his clients.
"We'll go through with it because it's the right thing to do," Roosa said, "but I'm not expecting much out of it."
When asked why, Roosa responded: "They've never been helpful. The bishop has never said anything that was particularly helpful."
The claims filed by Jack Does 2-4 are similar to those of Jack Doe 1. At the time of the abuse, all four men lived in Sheldon Point. State law allows the men to make their claims anonymously in civil court.
Jack Doe 1 accused Nawn of abusing him between the ages of 13 and 14 while Nawn visited Sheldon Point from his normal duties in Holy Cross in 1963 and '64. On more than five separate occasions, according to the complaint, Nawn invited the boy to his quarters to spend the night then abused him.
Jack Doe 2-4 all said they were abused between the years of 1970 and '74 in the same village, which sits on the Black River in the Yukon River Delta. All were under the age of 12 and were sexually abused during what all three men call "wrestling matches."
The men also said Nawn had the boys lay on top of girls in his living quarters and simulate sexual intercourse while he watched. In turn, the suit said, he told each boy it would be a sin to tell anyone about the abuse and gave the child candy.
"Every molester seems to develop a pattern or practice that works for him or her ...," Roosa said. "Once they hit upon something that works, they do it again and again."
No other men have come forward with claims against Llorente. Jack Doe 1's complaint said others were also molested by the priest at the same time he was.
Each of the claims against Nawn indicate the presence of others at the time of some of the abuse. While no one else has come forward, Roosa believes there are more living victims who might file suit.
"I know of over half a dozen other victims," Roosa said. "I have not spoken to them yet. Jack Doe 2 and 3 have given me information about more victims."
Ex-Priest Gets Additional Prison Time for Abuse
January 14, 2005 [AP]
PHOENIX - A former Catholic priest already in prison was sentenced to an additional 12 years in prison Friday after he pleaded guilty to child molestation and sexual conduct with a minor.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Ronald Reinstein also gave Lawrence Joseph Lovell, who pleaded in August, five years probation.
The charges involve an altar boy at Saint Anthony in Phoenix about 20 years ago.
In March, Lovell was sentenced to 14 years for charges stemming from another case of child molestation that involved a boy at Sacred Heart Parish in Prescott, where Lovell was a priest in the late 1970s
Covington diocese settles sex-abuse lawsuit
January 15, 2005 [AP]
LEXINGTON, Ky. — The Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington has reached a settlement with a Lexington woman who sued over alleged sexual abuse. Kay Montgomery said she was molested by a priest in the 1960s. She declined to disclose the amount of the settlement.
"The case was never about money," Montgomery's attorney, Al Grasch, said. "The case was about finding out about what the church knew and what they did to conceal it."
Edward Fritsch was the priest identified in Montgomery's lawsuit, but he was not named as a defendant. Fritsch was sent by the Covington Diocese in 1966 to the Owensboro Diocese, where he was assigned to teach at Owensboro Catholic High School. Montgomery said he abused her when she was a ninth-grade student there.
Montgomery refused to agree to a settlement that required her to keep details of the case confidential.
Fritsch was assigned to St. William Church in Lancaster after being ordained in 1965.
Soon after, Fritsch's supervisor, Father Ralph Beiting, wrote in a letter that he had discovered that Fritsch had had "contact with about nine to ten girls." The letter was filed as part of the case.
Fritsch was sent to a psychiatric hospital in Louisville for four months of treatment.
Upon Fritsch's discharge in December 1965, Dr. James Wygal wrote that Fritsch had "tried to become involved with student nurses and some female patients." Wygal recommended that Fritsch be removed from the priesthood "if any more acute episodes occur."
In January 1966, court records show, Fritsch was assigned to a church in Fort Mitchell, but by June of that year he was removed and later suspended after a married woman said he took "sexual liberties" with her.
Fritsch was sent to the Owensboro Diocese after that. Later, after Montgomery transferred to the Academy of the Immaculate Conception in Ferdinand, Ind., she said Fritsch continued the abuse.
Every week, she said, he would come to the school and pick her up, drive her off campus and sexually molest her. She said Fritsch told her that her family would be excommunicated if she told.
Fritsch was removed from duty in 1967, when a Northern Kentucky woman said she was pregnant with his child, according to documents in the case.
He left the priesthood and married in 1969.
Reno man convicted of sexual assault, abuse of daughter
January 14, 2005 Reno, NV [AP]
A 42-year-old Reno man has been convicted of sexually assaulting and abusing his seven-year-old daughter.
A Washoe County district court jury found Roberto Gonzalez guilty Thursday of two counts of sexual assault on a child and one count of child abuse causing substantial bodily harm.
Washoe County District Attorney Richard Gammick says the child abuse charge stems from the fact that Gonzalez transmitted genital herpes to the child. He says the crimes occurred last April,
Gonzalez faces up to life in prison with little chance for parole over the next 50 years. A sentencing date has not yet been set.
Plea entered in child abuse case
January 14, 2005 [Marietta Times]
By Kate York
A Waterford woman pleaded guilty Thursday to child abuse charges that came to light during the investigation of her infant daughter's murder in 2003
Alicia Hanson, 20, of 18189 State Route 339, pleaded guilty to attempted child endangerment, a fourth-degree felony, as part of a plea agreement reached with Washington County prosecutor Jim Schneider. The original second-degree felony charge of felonious assault was thrown out as part of the agreement, as were third-degree charges of perjury.
The charges were all in connection to the murder of Hanson's 2-month-old daughter, Falicia Guidry, who died Nov. 27, 2003, from a blow to the head. Falicia's father, Leopold Patrick Guidry, was convicted of the crime and sentenced to life in prison in August, after telling investigators he struck the child on the head because she was crying during an important part of a movie. He is seeking a new trial on the charge.
Schneider said the plea agreement with Hanson was a way to ensure that she had a felony conviction on her record.
"The felonious assault charge would have been tougher to prove and the perjury charge would have carried a similar punishment to the endangerment," Schneider said. "We wanted to get her for something, and this way we were certain of getting a felony record so that if she's in trouble down the road, the penalty will be stiffer."
Hanson will be sentenced by Washington County Common Pleas Judge Susan Boyer at 8 a.m. March 2 and could receive a maximum of 18 months in jail and a $5,000 fine. The maximum sentence for the original assault charge would have been eight years in prison and a $15,000 fine.
Signs of abuse were discovered by doctors after Falicia was admitted to the hospital with the head injury that killed her. During Guidry's murder trial, Hanson admitted to hitting and shaking her baby.
"The medical professionals who treated and examined her were all convinced the rib injuries they found were several weeks old and not the cause of death," Schneider said. "If a jury had found that she had struck her child but it didn't cause serious harm, we would have lost the felonious assault conviction."
Hanson has been in jail on $50,000 bond since September and will remain there after Thursday's hearing.
She came to court handcuffed, wearing an orange jumpsuit, and spent nearly half an hour before the hearing laughing and talking with her attorney, Nancy Brum.
The plea agreement may be helpful to Guidry in his attempt to get a new trial, said Guidry's attorney, Janet McKim.
Guidry filed a motion for a new trial in August after McKim received a letter from Hanson confessing that she had killed the baby. At a hearing to determine whether Guidry would get a new trial, Hanson then testified that she had not written the letter and did not recognize it.
She was charged with perjury after investigators found evidence in her home that she had sent the letter and recorded phone conversations between Guidry and Hanson while he was in the Washington County Jail included Hanson's confession that she had written the letter.
Guidry's attempt for a new trial will resume once the taped conversations are made into transcripts.
"The (plea agreement) is a bonus for (Guidry)," McKim said Thursday. "While she was facing perjury charges, we couldn't put her back on the stand but now we can. At least now we can find an answer and (Guidry) can get on with his life."
Schneider said the state is not going to pursue murder charges against Hanson unless she confesses again to killing her daughter.
Brum advised Hanson Thursday that she may have to appear in court for Guidry's proceedings.
"I'll be there with you," she told her client before saying emphatically, "but you are going to have to tell the truth."
January 14, 2005
Second church volunteer arrested in child abuse probe
January 10, 2005
METHUEN, Mass.— A second person faced charges in connection with a child abuse investigation at a Mormon church in Methuen, police said.
Paquette is a volunteer librarian at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Methuen.
Police said Peter A. Paquette, 59, of Andover, was arrested at his home on Friday. He pleaded innocent in Lawrence District Court to a charge of failing to register as a sex offender.
Last Tuesday, Kevin Curlew, 43, of Dracut, also a church volunteer, was arrested and charged with sexually assaulting the 9-year-old son of a church member.
Police said Curlew and Paquette are friends, and both were placed in charge of monitoring children while adults attended church meetings.
Police said they received a tip last week that Paquette had not registered with the state Sex Offender Registry Board, a felony with a penalty of up to five years in prison.
In two separate cases in the 1970s and 1980s, Paquette was convicted in Somerville and Chelsea district courts of indecent assault and battery on a child, according to Methuen police Lt. Michael Wnek.
Curlew was held on $25,000 cash bail on charges of indecent assault and battery on a person under 14, enticement of a child, assault and battery, reckless endangerment of a child, and kidnapping.
He was arrested after police investigated a report that Curlew had assaulted the boy at the church, Wnek said. Wnek said the boy is now the only known victim, but are looking into whether there are more.
Transient faces 16 charges of child sexual abuse
January 14, 2005
Prescott, AZ – A 20-year-old transient is in custody on 16 charges of sexually abusing children and he may be facing additional charges, according to authorities.
Marco Antonio Ybarra faces five counts of sexual conduct with a minor, three counts of child molestation and eight counts of indecent exposure.
Det. Clyde Bentley of the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office said his agency began its investigation after a man reported that his 14-year-old daughter might be having a sexual relationship with Ybarra.
He said the investigation revealed six other victims, all girls between the ages of 8 and 14. He said they are all related to each other.
Bentley said that Ybarra befriended the 14-year-old victim at Prescott Live before the night club closed its doors, adding that the girl’s father allowed him to stay in their house in Paulden.
During that time, Ybarra committed the alleged crimes, Bentley said, adding that he believes that there are more victims, including under-age boys, who have not reported it to the police.
Bentley said Ybarra has lived in the tri-city area for some time and he attended the ACHIEVE Academy. He said he is investigating whether Ybarra recruited some other victims from the school because he believes that the suspect may have been sexually involved with other minors previously
January 13, 2005
Paper Lace Star Sentenced over Child Porn
January 14, 2005
Former PAPER LACE bassist JOHN CHAMBERS will be added to Britain's sex offenders' register after pleading guilty to possessing child pornography.
Video tapes containing indecent images were found in the 54-year-old rocker's Nottingham, England home during a search by police last August 2004
The musician was sentenced this week to 200 hours community punishment and five years on the offenders' register.
Nottingham Crown Court JUDGE DUDLEY BENNETT said, "Neither the public nor the courts take kindly to people who abuse children and photographing young children in this way is an abuse of children just as much as if there was physical touching because it can lead to their corruption. It would not happen unless people wanted to watch disgusting images of this type.
"There is a huge amount of mitigation in your case. You have never been in any trouble in your life. You are in poor health."
Paper Lace had several hits in the 1970s, including number one single Billy Don't be a Hero.
Man sentenced for abuse of minor
January 13, 2005 Rapid City, SD
An Eagle Butte man will serve 14 years in prison for sexually abusing a child.
Alan Red Fox Sr., 48, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Charles Kornmann to 14 years in custody followed by five years of supervised release. Red Fox was originally indicted on four counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a minor and one count of incest. He later pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated sexual abuse of a minor.
The charges were related to the abuse of a child at Eagle Butte between Jan. 1, 2004, and Feb. 6, 2004, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Red Fox was immediately taken into custody to begin serving his sentence.
Jackson transcripts detail child abuse, ABC reports
January 13, 2005 [AP]
LOS ANGELES — Michael Jackson’s accuser told a grand jury that the pop star closed his eyes tightly while molesting him on a bed, according to an ABC News report that quotes from transcripts of the testimony.
The boy described Jackson’s alleged crimes in graphic detail, according to the network, which said its “Primetime Live” program reviewed more than 1,900 pages of testimony.
Details on the transcripts, which have not been released, were reported Thursday on ABC’s Web site and quoted on “Good Morning America.” A fuller report was planned Thursday evening on “Primetime Live.”
Defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. declined to comment to ABC
Jackson attorney Brian Oxman told The Associated Press that the defense could not comment because of a gag order the judge has imposed on the case.
The accuser told prosecutors who questioned him before the Santa Barbara County grand jury that Jackson never spoke to him during the alleged abuse and the two didn’t discuss it later, ABC reported.
According to transcripts, the boy said that when he was molested, he looked over at the pop star and “his eyes were like squinching really tight.”
Jackson was indicted in April on multiple counts of molestation and a count of conspiracy involving child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion.
Some counts accuse him of administering alcohol to further child molestation. The accuser, who had cancer and lost a kidney when a surgeon removed a tumor, said he told Jackson he shouldn’t drink alcohol because of his medical condition, according to the transcripts.
“And so it harms my kidney for I drink that stuff,” the accuser was quoted as saying. “But he would just say, ’It’s OK.’ And he would just keep on telling me to drink.”
Normally, grand jury transcripts are made public in California 10 days after they’re received by a defendant. But the judge has kept the Jackson transcripts sealed, along with most other documents in the case.
Jury selection in the case begins Jan. 31. Pretrial hearings have been set for Jan. 21 and Jan. 27 to consider issues such as whether a child-abuse expert can testify and what should be included on the questionnaire to be given to jurors.
Jackson judge won't hold hearing on alleged prior abuse in secret
January 13, 2005
Paul Chavez, Associated Press Writer
The judge in the Michael Jackson child-molestation case has ruled that arguments over admissibility of evidence about past allegations of sex abuse will not be held in secret.
The ruling Wednesday by Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville was a victory for the news media and the prosecution, which both opposed a defense motion to hold a hearing on the issue in chambers.
Melville said he will schedule the arguments over admission of past abuse allegations after the jury is selected. He also said that if the evidence is admitted into the trial it would be presented to the jury after the prosecution presents its core case on the current allegations.
"I've had a bad experience as a judge. I once allowed evidence of this type and did not require the actual evidence first," Melville said, noting that he had to grant a new trial in that case.
The judge told defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. that his decision could affect Mesereau's opening statement to the jury. Melville asked him to consider options that may include waiting to deliver his opening statement until after the prosecution has presented its case.
Jackson was not present Wednesday but he is expected when jury selection begins Jan. 31.
Media attorney Theodore Boutrous Jr. praised Melville's ruling that kept courtroom doors open for the hearings. The prosecution had supported keeping the hearing open, noting that the defense, while arguing that the hearings might prejudice the jury pool, has not expressed such concern on other issues that could be just as prejudicial.
Jackson, 46, is charged with plying a boy with alcohol and molesting him. He has pleaded not guilty.
Another court document shows the judge has ordered television correspondent Martin Bashir to come to California to testify in the trial on March 1. Bashir produced the 2003 TV documentary in which Jackson said he allowed children to sleep in his bed but that it was not sexual.
Bashir is now a correspondent for ABC News, which said Wednesday it will fight Bashir's subpoena.
"We feel strongly that the California shield law protects the rights of journalists who cannot be -- or be perceived to be -- arms of either the prosecution or defense as they pursue the news," ABC News Vice President Jeffrey Schneider said in a statement.
The judge set pretrial hearings for Jan. 21 and Jan. 27 to consider issues including whether a child-abuse expert can testify, the questionnaire to be given to jurors and other motions on admission of evidence.
January 12, 2005
Reno-area man headed back to prison again for child abuse
January 12, 2005 Reno, NV [AP]
A Reno-area man who earlier served nine years in prison for child abuse was sentenced to up to ten years in prison Tuesday for abusing his eleven-day-old daughter last year.
34-year-old Stacy Michael Dozier of Sun Valley was arrested in February and later admitted to police he injured the infant when he became frustrated that she would not stop crying.
Washoe County Deputy District Attorney Kelli Anne Viloria says it was the same reason he had given law officers in the previous case for injuries caused to another infant. That child suffered permanent brain damage.
Prosecutors say Dozier took the bruised and bleeding baby to a local hospital emergency room on February 26th.
Later tests showed the girl had suffered a fractured arm.
Dozier apologized for hurting the child during Tuesday's sentencing before Washoe County District Judge Connie Steinheimer.
The judge says he "should have known better" given that he served nine years in prison for similar conduct. He will not be eligible for parole until he serves a minimum of four years.
January 11, 2005
Sullivan sentenced for sex abuse
January 11, 2005
By Carrie Petersen
Timothy Sean Sullivan, former pastor of Liberty Christian Center, was sentenced Monday afternoon to eight years and nine months in prison for sexually abusing his 11-year-old daughter.
In December, Sullivan was convicted by a jury in Linn County Circuit Court on two counts of sexual abuse.
The victim is Sullivan's daughter from a previous relationship.
Each conviction carries a minimum sentence of six years and three months in prison.
Judge John McCormick required that Sullivan serve the full 75 months on the first count.
On the second count, Sullivan will serve 30 months consecutive to the first 75, and 45 months will be served concurrently.
McCormick said deciding whether or not to have Sullivan serve the prison time consecutively or concurrently was not a decision he took lightly.
Giving the sentences consecutively would be unfair to the defendant, McCormick said, and giving the sentences concurrently would be unfair to the victim.
Sullivan will also be required to register as a sex offender once he is released from prison.
Prior to the sentencing, Deputy District Attorney De Ann Ferrari told the judge the situation required Sullivan serve the full 150 months.
Ferrari told the judge that the victim in this case is "one of the most vulnerable victims imaginable," because of her age and the relationship between her and Sullivan.
"He abused a position of trust not only as a father but as a spiritual leader and an adult," Ferrari told the judge.
The victim's mother read from a handwritten note to the court saying, "nothing can take away the pain this man has caused."
Sullivan's attorney, J. Mark Lawrence of McMinnville, told the judge there were "extraordinary lengths Sullivan went to to protect his daughter."
Lawrence explained that Sullivan had spoken with many people about his concern that his daughter may have been molested.
He set boundaries by asking his wife to be in the same room when he and his daughter were together, Lawrence said. Sullivan also told his daughter that nothing was her fault.
Sullivan nodded his head in agreement while Lawrence conveyed a message for him.
Lawrence told the judge that Sullivan wanted to make sure his daughter knew nothing about this was her fault. Her father was going to prison, but that is not her fault, Lawrence said.
Sullivan stood before the judge and said there were lots of things going through his mind. "The thing I really want to say ... if she (my daughter) will accept this, ‘I love her.'"
Sullivan added, "I am deeply sorry for anything I may have done to make her feel uncomfortable or afraid."
The defense said it plans to file at least one motion following Monday's sentencing.
A hearing for those motions has been set for 10:30 a.m. Feb. 23
Abused boy, 12, claims parents' jail sentence too light
January 11, 2005 [The Salt Lake Tribune]
By Stephen Hunt
A maltreated 12-year-old boy had just one question Monday about his parents' jail sentence for chaining him in the basement of their Magna home: "Why do they only have to go for six months?"
One reason for the relatively light punishment is that Mark J. and Christina L. Gray have five other children at home.
Convicted by a jury of second-degree felony child abuse, the Grays each faced up to 15 years in prison. But 3rd District Judge Robin Reese allowed the couple to stagger their six-month jail terms so one of them can be free to care for the kids. Christina Gray opted to serve her sentence first.
Reese called the Grays "compassionate people, who cared about [the boy]," but who became frustrated with his uncontrollable behavior and constant running away from home.
Reese noted, however, there was an element of punishment in the Grays' behavior.
During the day, the boy was handcuffed and chained to a concrete block, according to charges filed in March 2004. At night, the boy slept on a small rug on a cement floor while chained to a wall, without a blanket or pillow.
Defense attorney Barton Warren claimed the Grays restrained the boy for his own protection. He said the Grays had sought help from numerous public agencies, to no avail.
"They are a caring, loving couple who were faced with an impossible situation," Warren said, pleading for a sentence that did not include jail time.
Warren reiterated the Grays' claim that they received permission from a Salt Lake County sheriff's deputy to chain the boy, after he had been brought home by police more than 20 times. The officer, however, has denied ever using the word "chain."
Prosecutor Paul Parker had asked for up to a year in jail. He said the Grays had exhibited "just flat meanness. . . . They were abusive and nasty to this young man."
At trial, the boy testified that his father and stepmother often deprived him of food. When he was allowed upstairs to eat, he was handcuffed to his chair, he said.
The boy admitted running away from home, but testified he did so to escape physical abuse by his stepmother.
He said she hit and kicked him, stabbed him in the head with a fork, poured jalapeno juice in his eyes and struck him with a piece of two-by-four lumber. At night, she would sometimes pour water on him then turn on a fan, he said.
On Monday, the Grays apologized to the boy, who now lives with an aunt, and said they loved him.
Christina Gray, 36, called herself a "person lacking in wisdom" who made "a poor choice."
Mark Gray, 40, promised he would never repeat his actions, but insisted he chained the boy to protect him.
"He was out for days with no food or shelter or protection from the environment," the father said.
Defense attorney Warren said the boy - who came to live with the Grays because he had been abused by his biological mother - was once gone four days..
Parker said the boy is now attending school and has stopped running away.
"He has a very nice life," Parker said. "That condemns these people [the Grays] as much as anything."
Couple Sentenced for Chaining Child in Basement
January 10, 2005
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A Magna couple will spend six months in jail for chaining their 12-year-old foster child in the basement.
Mark and Christina Gray were convicted in September of second degree felony child abuse and neglect.
The couple were sentenced today to serve staggered sentences of six months each. That way one of them will be able to care for their remaining five children.
The boy, who came to live with the Grays after he was abused by his biological mother, testified he was deprived of food and chained to a concrete block.
He now lives with an aunt.
The state Division of Child and Family Services didn't remove the couples' other children saying the abuse was directed only at the boy.
They were also ordered to complete parenting and anger management classes.
Pastor faces sentencing for child sex abuse
January 10, 2005 Albany, Oregon [Associated Press]
An Albany pastor is scheduled to be sentenced today after being found guilty of the sexual abuse of his young daughter.
A jury found 36-year-old Timothy Sean Sullivan guilty of two counts of first-degree sexual abuse last month. He was pastor of the Liberty Christian Center.
The victim, now 12, is Sullivan's daughter from an earlier relationship.
Sullivan's wife, in-laws, and supporters from his church were with him throughout his six-day trial.
Upon the reading of the verdict, Sullivan slumped in his chair, and wept. So did his family.
Sullivan has maintained his innocence and took the stand in his own defense. His daughter was also called to testify.
She identified her father as the person who molested her. Sullivan's sentencing is set for 3 p.m
January 08, 2005
Agencies are faulted in death of 2-year-old
January 8, 2005 [Winston-Salem Journal]
by Patrick Wilson
A series of failures on the part of Forsyth County Child Protective Services, law-enforcement agencies and medical employees hindered investigations of physical and sexual abuse of a 2-year-old girl who was killed by her mother's boyfriend in 2003, a state report released yesterday said.
Bethany Brannock died of head trauma on June 18, 2003. Andre Clifton, 25, who was the boyfriend of Bethany's mother, Leatrice "Leanne" Brannock, pleaded guilty last month in Forsyth Superior Court to second-degree murder and felonious child abuse, and was sentenced to a minimum of 13 years in prison.
Among the many problems cited by the report: A man who reported suspected abuse of Bethany to the Forsyth County Department of Social Services was transferred to voice mail, and no one returned his call.
"Everything just seemed to be falling through the cracks for that poor little girl," said Imran Butt, one of several people who reported abuse. "There were dozens of people who saw that child. The system knew about it.... We as a society failed that child."
The review was required by law because the family had been involved with social services before Bethany died. The Brannock family was reported for abuse or neglect six times between 1999 and 2003, the report said.
Dr. Tim Monroe, the Forsyth County health director, said that no system is fail-safe and that there was no single event or decision that could have prevented the homicide.
But he said that the review found problems that should be corrected. The report makes 17 recommendations for various agencies to better protect children in the future.
Some of those suggestions may be presented by state officials to the General Assembly for consideration, said Carlotta Dixon, the child-fatality reviewer from the state who investigated Bethany's case.
Among the findings of the report, which was prepared by the N.C. Division of Social Services, the Forsyth County Community Child Protection Team and the Forsyth Child Fatality Team:
* Emergency-medical personnel at a hospital saw Bethany on Aug. 3, 2002, for possible sexual abuse. But they did not make a report to Child Protective Services or to police because there was no physical evidence.
* Child Protective Services, or CPS, the arm of the social-services department that takes reports of child abuse and neglect, used information from a private agency whose goals are family preservation to allow Bethany to stay with her parent.
* CPS did not send its finding substantiating that there had been neglect of Bethany in July 2001 to the district attorney's office.
* CPS could not investigate allegations of sexual abuse involving the girl because the suspect was a minor. Reports about the sexual-abuse allegations were forwarded to the Winston-Salem Police Department and Forsyth County Sheriff's Office in August 2002. CPS did not follow up with the agencies to determine their findings. The report says that the sheriff's office did not investigate; no mention is made of the Winston-Salem department's findings.
* Kernersville police did not promptly deal with a May 2003 report that a child was abused in a convenience store, and police did not notify CPS until six days later.
Kernersville Police Chief Neal Stockton said that the officer who investigated the case handled it appropriately. The officer talked with Leatrice Brannock and did not see any indication that there was an emergency. He filed his report, supervisors reviewed it and sent it to DSS, Stockton said.
"If we felt like that child had been in harm's way, we would have made charges and had DSS come out to take custody of that child," Stockton said.
Forsyth County Sheriff Bill Schatzman said he was not familiar with the information that the report said the sheriff's office did not investigate. But he said that the two detectives who handle child-abuse cases have a heavy workload.
"We have two detectives assigned, which is too little in my view," he said. "There's no excuse for not being sensitive and robust and aggressive when it comes to child cases."
Among the report's recommendations:
* Child Protective Services should be familiar with other agencies to which it refers clients. Agencies providing services to families where abuse and neglect have been found should be in regular contact with CPS about their services and goals.
* Medical personnel should notify CPS and law enforcement in cases of suspected sexual abuse, even if there is no physical evidence.
* Police agencies should do their own investigations of sexual-abuse allegations regardless of any decisions by CPS.
* The Department of Social Services should refer reports of suspected sexual abuse to the district attorney.
* CPS should be allowed to investigate juveniles suspected of sexually abusing other children if the suspects were taking care of the children.
* The state should create a hot line for people to call to report child abuse, and Forsyth County should prominently publish in the phone book and other places a number for CPS.
George Bryan is the executive director of Exchange/SCAN, a group that fights child abuse, and was on the 19-person team that reviewed the Brannock case. The problems, he said, were more pervasive than in any other review of a child's death that he's been involved with.
"There were many reports, many investigations of this family. It was a continuing issue," Bryan said. "And yes, we folks that are working in child abuse didn't communicate the way we should have, is what the results say."
Leatrice Brannock could not be reached yesterday for comment.
Sheila Partin, Bethany's paternal grandmother, who made several reports of abuse, said she hopes that the recommendations can help save other children. "We can't bring Bethany back no matter what," she said.
Imran Butt employed Leatrice Brannock at his Quality Mart gas station at the corner of Bodenhamer and West Mountain streets in Kernersville. He made his call to DSS about two weeks before Bethany died, leaving his cell-phone number. He reported seeing bruises on the girl. He was starting two new businesses, driving a lot and working long days; he didn't get a call back.
"I didn't have the time to call someone up and do it again," Butt said. "I should have done more. The system is only as good as we make it."
• Patrick Wilson can be reached at 727-7286 wsjournal.com
Tsunami orphans at sexual abuse risk
January 2, 2005 [UPI]
Colombo, Sri Lanka, Jan. 2 (UPI) -- Save the Children Fund in Sri Lanka said children orphaned by the tsunami are at risk of sexual abuse in camps or being sold to child traffickers.
The international children's aid organization said it has evidence that children in a camp have been bought for about $40, the Scotsman.com reported Sunday.
"We believe two children were sold to traffickers from Colombo. We don't know why they have taken the children but we fear they will be passed on to pedophiles or sold for some other form of exploitation," said Tahirih Ayn, a child protection officer with Save the Children Fund Sri Lanka.
The number of children orphaned or separated from their parents after the tsunami, which killed nearly 30,000 people in Sri Lanka, is unknown, but in one camp of displaced persons, about 40 percent were children.
A Save the Children Fund official said the group feared that children might be sexually exploited by adults in the camps and it recommended children be separated from adults. The group also said some parents who lost children in the disaster have taken orphaned children illegally.
January 07, 2005
Two Ohio women lose appeal in child abuse case
January 6, 2005 [The Advocate]
AKRON (AP)- A woman and her partner lost their appeal to retract their guilty pleas to abusing their six children.
Mary Rowles, 32, and Alice Jenkins, 29, both of Kenmore, were each sentenced to 30 years in prison.
The women pleaded guilty in October 2003 to kidnapping, child endangering, felonious assault and other charges.
The 9th Ohio District Court of Appeals on Wednesday also denied a request by Jenkins and Rowles to lessen their prison sentences. Attorneys for both women say they will appeal their case to the Ohio Supreme Court.
The women were arrested after three of Rowles' boys, ages 8, 10 and 14, were found malnourished wandering city streets in April 2003. Police said the boys described being forced to live in a closet that reeked of urine, with the only light coming in at the bottom of the door.
Rowles is the biological mother to each of the five boys and a girl. Prosecutors alleged Jenkins was responsible for the abuse and that Rowles didn't protect the children.
Before they were sentenced by Summit County Common Pleas Judge Patricia Cosgrove, the women tried to take back their plea and take their case to trial.
The women's attorneys said they wanted to call an expert who then refused to testify. Cosgrove gave the women a one-week delay to find another expert and refused to allow the pleas to be withdrawn when an expert couldn't be found.
Attorneys argued in their appeals that the women should be allowed to withdraw their pleas. They also argued that Cosgrove's sentences exceeded the statutory maximum.
The appellate court dismissed both claims in a 3-0 decision. The court ruled Cosgrove's sentence was within Ohio's sentencing laws.
Texas Seeks $329M to Reform Child Agency
January 7, 2005 [Associated Press]
AUSTIN - Texas' troubled Child Protective Services needs $329 million for reforms such as hiring nearly 2,000 more caseworkers and support staff and improving foster care, state officials said.
The Health and Human Services (news - web sites) Commission, which oversees CPS, laid out more than 160 recommendations to overhaul the agency, which has come under scrutiny after a number of high-profile child abuse deaths.
The most recent was in November, when 35-year-old Dena Schlosser was charged with murder after telling a 911 operator that she had cut off the arms of her baby girl. Schlosser had been investigated by CPS in the past.
Gov. Rick Perry on Thursday called on the Legislature to come up with $250 million, the estimated amount needed from the state, to implement the HHSC plan. The rest of the money would come from federal sources.
F. Scott McCown, head of the Center for Public Policy Priorities, said the plan was a great starting point, but said it calls for too little money and caseloads that are too large.
Jury convicts in child abuse
January 7, 2005 [St Cloud Times - Minnesota]
By David Unze
A Stearns County jury Thursday evening convicted a St. Cloud man of two counts of sexual abuse against a child. Joseph C. Merritt faces a possible 12-year prison term when he is sentenced.
He also faces several other charges of sexually abusing other children. Trials on those counts are expected later this year. Merritt, 42, has been in Stearns County Jail in lieu of $75,000 bond.
The children he is accused of abusing ranged in age from 7 to 14 at the time of the abuse.
Prosecutors tried to tell jurors about aggravating factors that could have been used to support a sentence longer than the presumptive 12-year term. Stearns County District Court Judge Skipper Pearson denied that request.
A U.S. Supreme Court decision last summer requires that juries, rather than judges, decide whether the facts of a case are severe enough to warrant a sentence longer than called for in guidelines.
Some of the incidents alleged against Merritt occurred in Hoffman in Grant County, according to criminal complaints. Stearns County sheriff's officials received a complaint about Merritt in January 2004. He was charged that month with one count. The additional counts were filed later after investigators learned of more victims.
Cases of child abuse emerge from camps
January 6, 2005 [Belfast Telegraph News]
By Stephen Khan in Galle, Sri Lanka
Having climbed to higher ground as the wave pounded in, Madusha Lakmali thought everything would be all right. Little did she know that evading the tsunami was just the start of her terrifying, week-long ordeal. Next came homelessness, rejection and then sexual abuse.
Across the Asian tsunami disaster zone, many displaced children and orphans who have survived the turmoil now face the chilling prospect of abduction and exploitation.
There are already credible reports of rape and of children going missing after the tsunami struck. From Sumatra to Madras, the fear is that Asia's vulnerable are now more exposed to predatory sex offenders and people-smugglers than ever before.
The account of 15-year-old Madusha illustrates how chaos that follows disaster can be every bit as petrifying and heartbreaking as living through the onslaught of a tsunami.
In the gardens of the Ruhlwa Lamaniwasao home for abused children, half an hour's drive inland from the shattered town of Galle, Madusha played on the swings with two other recent arrivals. All three had terrible stories to tell.
Ever since her mother moved abroad and her father remarried, said Madusha, she had been forced to cook, clean and care for her younger step-sisters. When the wave came she was at the stove. She fled the house, running to higher ground and what seemed like safety.
At first she thought her family was dead. Later in the day she was first delighted to discover them alive, then shocked to be told, she says, that they did not want her back in the damaged house.
So, homeless, she made for her grandfather's home. Within hours, however, predatory advances were made on her. As she described this part of her ordeal Madusha broke down, prompting Dr Sujeewa Amarasena to comfort her.
Dr Amarasena has been looking after children displaced by last week's tsunami and trying to find them new homes. "This girl has had a petrifying experience and needs love and care now," Dr Amarasena said. "She wants to go back to school and it is important we find a good family in this area to look after her."
Iranganie Amarasiri, probation commissioner for the southern province that includes Galle, nodded in agreement as other children looked on. She explained that 16 children were without homes in the area as a result of the tsunami. She also expressed concern that those orphaned or left with just one parent could be abducted or subjected to sexual abuse.
While most Sri Lankan orphans have been taken in by family members or friends living in unaffected parts of the country, that does not guarantee their safety.
Along with Madusha in the Rhulwa home were two sisters, Ayesha and Nelum Keditawakku. They had been travelling with their grandfather when the tsunami toppled their carriage. Their parents moved abroad and abandoned them and 12-year-old Ayesha had subsequently been sexually abused.
Their grandfather also survived the wave, but fled north without the girls, leaving them to seek refuge in a temple. They were subsequently brought to safety here. "Again these are girls who survived a terrifying time and are now without a family to look after them. The future is uncertain and they are scared because of what happened before," Mrs Amarasiri said.
Save the Children is operating in the Galle area and throughout the disaster region to ensure as many children as possible escape the risk of abduction or abuse. Beth Jepson, of Save the Children, said: "Millions of children have been affected by the catastrophe and many of them have been separated from their families and have been left homeless. In a situation like this, children are the most vulnerable, particularly those without their parents or close family members."
In Aceh, meanwhile, where 35,000 children have been orphaned or separated from their parents, Indonesian officials warned that child traffickers were smuggling children out the province for illegal adoption.
It is claimed that at least 20 orphans were sent to Malaysia and Bandung in West Java by traffickers posing as adoption foundations. Another foundation, it is claimed, has offered Acehnese orphans to potential foster parents via text messages. On Monday, the Indonesian Government issued a regulation banning the movement of Acehnese children under 16 from Indonesia .
Sri Lankan authorities, meanwhile are also trying to deal with what has been described as impromptu adoption of orphans. A spokeswoman for Save the Children in Sri Lanka said: "Families doing this are trying to deal with their own grief. We are advising people that they should follow the proper procedure of adoption ... otherwise there will be long-term problems."
Unicef has been swamped with inquires from the West about adopting tsunami children, but it remains a priority to keep them in the area they lived before disaster struck.
In the case of Madusha Lakmali that means southern Sri Lanka. "I want to finish school," she told The Independent. "If I can learn English and finish school, I will be happy and maybe forget about the last week."
Convicted offender pleads guilty to child sexual abuse charge
Thursday, January 6, 2005 Utah [The Spectrum]
By ELIZABETH MILLER
CEDAR CITY -- Previously convicted sex offender Leo Shepard, 46, pleaded guilty to first-degree felony attempted sexual abuse of a child in 5th District Court Wednesday.
Shepard will go to prison regardless of what a pre-sentence report indicates because there is a minimum sentence requirement with the charge to which he pleaded guilty. The minimum sentence will be three years to life in prison.
Shepard was arrested Dec. 9 when it was made known to Adult Probation and Parole that he failed to register as a sex offender. Following the arrest, a victim with whom Shepard had a special relationship of trust who was under the age of 18, came forward and reported the abuse to law enforcement. After an interview with Shepard, the sexual abuse charge was filed.
As a result of the agreement between Shepard and the state, the charge of failing to register as a sex offender was dropped, and no victim will have to testify in court.
"This was an ideal situation," Iron County Attorney Scott Garrett said. "In an effort to protect the victim and maximize the time he will spend in prison, he pleaded guilty to attempted (sexual abuse of a child)."
Garrett said if Shepard had pleaded guilty to the original charge of sexual abuse of a child, also a first-degree felony, the minimum sentence would be five years to life in prison.
"We feel good about the plea and we know he will go to prison," he said.
A factual statement read by Chief Deputy Iron County Attorney Troy Little indicated that in July 2004, Shepard touched the victim's private parts. The victim was not of age that she could give consent, nor did she.
January 05, 2005
Jury: Fla. Agency Guilty in Child's Death
January 5, 2005 [Associated Press]
STARKE, Fla. - A jury ruled Wednesday that the state's child welfare agency was at fault in the beating death of a 3-year-old girl who was allowed to remain in an abusive home.
The panel awarded the child's father $250,000. The case is latest in a series of embarrassments for the Department of Children & Families, which has been
under scrutiny since the disappearance of a foster child who was in the state-approved care of a woman with a lengthy criminal record.
"We are reviewing the jury's decision and are exploring our legal options," Department of Children & Families spokesman Tim Bottcher said.
Ciara Floyd was beaten to death by her mother's boyfriend in 1996, a month after her father sought hospital treatment for the girl for bruises on her chest and back. A child abuse investigator determined there was not enough evidence to remove the child from her mother's home.
The boyfriend was sentenced to 30 years for his guilty plea to murder in the case.
The lawyer for DCF argued the investigator had no recourse under the law but to leave Ciara with her mother since there were no doctors' reports of abuse.
"Without that, there were no reasonable grounds to justify the removal of Ciara," Deputy Attorney General Denis Dean said. "Whether she'd like to do something, whether she has a feeling, she has to follow the law."
But the father's lawyer argued that there was plenty of evidence to remove the child, including the girl's bruises, an admitted domestic battery by the boyfriend and a verified abuse report involving another child.
Dad gets 3 Life Sentences
The case uncovered inadequacy of the state's abuse hot line system
January 5, 2005 By RUTH RENDON [Houston Chronicle]
GALVESTON - A League City man was given three life sentences Tuesday after admitting he molested his 2-year-old daughter and beat her to death in a case that brought to light an ineffective state child abuse hot line system.
Frank Padilla, 46, was scheduled for trial next month. His guilty pleas avoided a lengthy trial in which he faced the death penalty. He likely will have to serve 70 years in prison before being released.
An unconscious Linda Gloria Padilla was taken to a Nassau Bay hospital by her father on Aug. 8, 2003. Padilla told hospital officials the girl had fallen off a sink but later confessed to police that he had beaten her because she wet her pants.
The little girl, who never regained consciousness, was transferred to a Houston hospital where she died Aug. 13, 2003, after being taken off life support.
An autopsy showed that the toddler suffered a broken pelvis, broken ribs, a fractured skull and bruises all over her body.
"I think justice has been served today for Linda Padilla," said League City police Detective Marty Grant, who investigated the case. "This animal is off the streets and will not be able to hurt anyone else."
Prior to appearing before state District Judge John Ellisor, Padilla spent about an hour in a conference room with his attorneys and a translator going over paperwork.
He showed no emotion when questioned during an hourlong hearing. Wearing jail scrubs, Padilla answered questions from prosecutors and defense attorneys as he stood before the judge.
Galveston County District Attorney Kurt Sistrunk said defense attorneys approached his office about a possible plea bargain and his office agreed.
"There was nobody else here for her other than us and the League City Police Department," Sistrunk said of Linda Padilla. "Her father was convicted of capital murder and her mother is facing trial."
Padilla, a Mexican national, must serve 40 years on the life sentence for capital murder before being eligible for parole. At the same time, he will be serving one of the aggravated sexual assault sentences and is eligible for parole after 30 years.
Defense attorney Stephen Taylor said it is unlikely Padilla would receive parole on the aggravated assault case when he still would have 10 years to complete on the capital murder case before being considered for parole. Once he completes one aggravated case, then he will serve the second case, Taylor said.
Taylor said the plea bargain keeps jurors from hearing and seeing graphic information about the case. Don Cantrell, another defense attorney, also said the plea agreement was an effort to save Padilla's life.
Taylor said the evidence against Padilla in the sexual assault cases was "very strong."
Frank Padilla's wife, Magdelena, 33, is charged with felony injury to a child by omission and is free on bond. No trial date has been set although Sistrunk said he expects the matter to be addressed by year's end.
The death of Linda Padilla raised questions about the state child abuse hot line system. A pizza deliveryman called the hot line two months before the little girl died to report that the child had a black eye. Frank Padilla, according to the pizza deliveryman, was shielding the girl from the door when he delivered the pizza.
The caseworker who took the call and dismissed the claim was subsequently fired. An investigation into the hot line by the Houston Chronicle resulted in additional workers being hired, installation of an upgraded computer system and other efforts to speed the answering of calls to the hot line.
The Chronicle found that people calling the hot line were being put on hold for extended periods of time because not enough people were answering the phones.
Judge Bars Disclosure Of Sex Abuse Victims' Names
Accusers Cannot Be Named During Trial, Order Says
January 5, 2005 [Associated Press]
BOSTON -- Acting at the request of prosecutors, a judge issued an order Tuesday barring the news media from disseminating the names of the alleged victims in the upcoming child rape trial of defrocked priest Paul Shanley.
Superior Court Judge Charles Spurlock's order bars the publication of the names of Shanley's accusers, one of whom is expected to testify at his trial on child rape charges later this month and has spoken publicly in the past about his allegations.
The name of that man has been published repeatedly by The Associated Press and other news organizations since 2002, when he filed a civil lawsuit against Shanley and gave numerous newspaper and television interviews.
Spurlock cited a state law dating back to the 1980s that says that court or police records containing the name of victims in criminal cases involving rape or assault with intent to rape "shall be withheld from public inspection, except with the consent of a justice" of the court where the case is being prosecuted.
The law says it is unlawful to "publish, disseminate or otherwise disclose the name of any individual identified as an alleged victim" of rape or attempted rape.
It was not immediately known how often - if ever - the law has been invoked to bar the media from naming alleged victims in rape cases.
The AP plans to appeal the judge's order.
The news agency has a policy of not identifying rape victims if they wish to remain anonymous. Two alleged victims who have been involved in the criminal case against Shanley have been publicly identified since 2002; one gave his first interviews about his allegations soon after Shanley was arrested in California.
The man's name was used in initial versions of a story that moved on the AP wire Tuesday, but was later removed after the judge's order was issued.
Ken Chandler, editorial director of the Boston Herald, said the newspaper also planned to comply with the judge's order and also would appeal it. The Boston Globe did not use the name of the man in its early Wednesday edition.
The Middlesex District Attorney's office, which sought the court order, declined to comment.
"I think the court order and the statute speak for themselves," spokeswoman Emily LaGrassa said.
January 04, 2005
Calif. Clergy Abuse Settlement Unsealed
Mon Jan 3, 8:50 PM ET [Associated Press]
LOS ANGELES - A judge Monday unsealed the details of a record $100 million settlement with a Southern California diocese over sex abuse allegations against clergy. Alleged victims sobbed as they spoke publicly about a deal that was nearly two years in the making.
The settlement with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange marks the single largest clergy abuse settlement to date. The Archdiocese of Boston agreed to pay $85 million to 552 plaintiffs in 2002.
"Let this be what everyone remembers from today: that nothing is more important than the protection of our children and our youth," Bishop Tod D. Brown said a news conference following a brief court hearing, sitting alongside the plaintiffs and their lawyers. "I seek their forgiveness, I hope for reconciliation and I know that they have now begun their healing process."
Some of the plaintiffs cried while others hugged Brown.
"Today I sit with you next to my brother in Christ, who has practiced his faith — not just with the money, but I see the compassion of Christ in this man," said plaintiff Mark Curran as he choked back tears. "Today, we can stand and we can say, 'I forgive you.' And of course I do. Of course we forgive you."
The settlement came Dec. 2 after nearly two years of negotiations; it was placed under a court seal while the parties signed off.
Payouts were based on the length and severity of abuse and other factors, but how much each plaintiff is getting remains confidential.
Half of the payout will come from the diocese and the other half will be paid by its eight insurance carriers. The agreement also calls for the release of nearly all confidential documents from diocesan personnel files of the accused after a judge's review; attorneys estimated the first records could be released within two months.
The settlement resolves 90 lawsuits against the diocese that included allegations against 31 priests, 10 lay personnel, one religious brother and two nuns. The earliest allegation dated to 1936; the latest came in 1996.
Some 800 clergy abuse lawsuits are still pending statewide and plaintiffs used the settlement announcement to call on other bishops — particularly Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony — to follow Brown's example.
The Archdiocese of Los Angeles faces more than 500 lawsuits that are still locked in settlement negotiations. Trial dates for a handful of those cases are expected to be set Friday.