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January 15, 2005

Child Abuse Task Force Reveals Findings

Salt Lake City [KSL News]

After months of investigation and study, the Utah Child Abuse Prevention Task Force has finished it's work.

The Utah Child Abuse Prevention Task Force is delivering its findings today. Members of the task force include political figures, medical professionals, and citizens like Lillian Miller who has two children that were abused while in daycare. Miller says, "Once there's a victim, everybody becomes a victim, and I just would not want this to happen to anybody else."

Task force Co-Chair Doctor Edward Clark says all those working against child abuse must work together better to prevent child abuse from happening. "It is first for the citizens of Utah to support al Utah parents to raise safe, healthy, and successful children."

The committee is also urging lawmakers to enact what they call a Kids' Action Plan. The plan includes seven points, and committee members say if they are implemented they would prevent abuse from happening.

Utah Legislators say they have bills currently being drafted to re-organize the Utah Children's Trust Fund, which will be open to all organizations working to prevent child abuse.

Posted by Nancy at 04:33 PM | Comments (0)

Effects of child abuse can linger forever

By Cynthia Beaudette [Muscatine Journal]

MUSCATINE, Iowa - On Dec. 19, 2004, a Muscatine toddler went from living the life of a 2-year-old girl to becoming a grim statistic in Muscatine's record books.

Melinda Enriquez's daughter, Leeanna Garcia-Enriquez, died of injuries sustained during an alleged beating that day. Leeanna's sister, 3-year-old Breeanna, was also injured. She remains hospitalized in Iowa City.

Enriquez's boyfriend at the time, Angel Garcia-Miranda, 22, awaits trial in the Muscatine County Jail after being charged with first-degree murder and willful injury.

According to the Iowa Department of Human Services, Muscatine County ranked 12th among Iowa's 99 counties in confirmed cases of child abuse with 343 cases in 2003.

The reason for the county's higher numbers isn't clear. However, one thing is certain: the effects of the abuse don't end when the abuse stops. Society also pays a price for the mistreatment of our nation's youngest residents.

Effects on the child

How and how much young children remember about incidents of violence is not easy to determine because children don't always have the capacity to articulate or communicate their feelings.

"It varies by child," said Rachel Riley-Smock, program supervisor of the Sexual Assault Domestic Abuse Advocacy Program and Domestic Abuse Advocacy Shelter. "Some people have memories of when they are 3 years old, others repress those memories."

But witnessing abuse impacts a child of any age.

"Small children are very aware of tension and constant uneasiness," said Riley-Smock. "And they are very responsive to the emotions of others."

Children who have experienced domestic violence respond in a variety of ways as time goes by.

"What we talk about in domestic violence is post-traumatic stress," said Riley-Smock, who has been working with the victims of abuse for 16 years. "The stress that comes from living in a war zone."

Riley-Smock said children who have been exposed to domestic violence tend to be on guard and constantly vigilant as to what may happen, whether they were physically or emotionally abused.

"Some become withdrawn and don't speak," said Riley-Smock. "There's a lot of shame associated with domestic violence."

Emotions that can arise from witnessing acts of abuse include a sense of guilt, because the child could not stop the act. Other children may wonder why they survived when a sibling did not, Riley-Smock said.

"Some children don't sleep well, they may have learning problems and some kids act out," said Riley-Smock.

Child abuse and crime

The long-term effects of child abuse can take on many forms, including an increased risk of becoming involved in criminal activity as a teen.

Prevent Child Abuse Iowa officials refer to a 1996 study using juvenile and criminal court records from a Midwestern city. The study compared 908 children who were abused from 1967-71 to 667 children from that same city who had not been abused.

Criminal records of the two groups in both 1988 and 1994 showed 27 percent of abused children were arrested for juvenile offenses, compared to 17 percent of the children who had not been abused.

The financial costs

Not only does child abuse and domestic violence harm young victims, research shows an economic impact that affects most Americans

According to a 2001 report from Prevent Child Abuse America, agencies in the United States spends about $94 billion annually in response to child abuse, which amounts to $1,461.66 per family per year and about $258 million each day.

That report, based on information provided by the U.S. Census Bureau and the federal departments of Health and Human Services, Justice, and others, also estimates the U.S. spends more than $24.3 billion annually on the direct effects of child abuse, with $14 billion going to the child welfare system.

Hope in the numbers?

Although Muscatine County has a high proportion of child abuse reported compared to most other Iowa counties, the numbers may reveal some hopeful news.

Stephen Scott, executive director of Prevent Child Abuse Iowa, said officials have looked at the poverty rate and the number of people who use methamphetamine and didn't find either of these sub groups to have high enough numbers to account for the relatively high number of reported and confirmed cases of child abuse.

Scott said the high rate could be a reflection of the number of people willing to report suspected cases of abuse. Scott said Muscatine-area residents may feel more of a connectedness with their community and believe something will be done if they do make a report.

"One reason is the agency itself," said Scott, referring to the DHS. "They may be seen as more responsive and people may report abuse more often." Scott said local law-enforcement agencies are also key in gaining the public's confidence when it comes to believing there will be a response to reports.

"I'd like to think all the work we've done on awareness has led to more people reporting domestic violence," said Riley-Smock. "People know there is help out there and the local law-enforcement agencies will respond."

Scott said most cases of abuse are linked to neglect and about 13 to 14 percent of reports refer to physical abuse.

How to help

Scott said there are more ways people can make their communities safer for children.

"Let's say a next-door neighbor seems stressed with the role of parenting," said Scott. "Offering a listening ear or shoulder to lean on can be as important as a call later on."

When physical violence is observed or a child appears to have been assaulted, these instances should be reported, Scott said.

Riley-Smock said it's important to remember that domestic violence can occur in any home.

"It can happen to anyone of any religion, age or sexual orientation," said Riley-Smock. "It happens to the strongest and most intelligent women. Unfortunately, the children are always the ones who suffer."

Contact Cynthia Beaudette at:563-263-2331 Ext. 323 orcynthia.beaudette@muscatinejournal.com


A list of resources and contacts in the Louisa and Muscatine County area for prevention and reporting of child abuse:

Prevent Child Abuse Iowa: 800-237-1815

Family Resources Crisis Hotline: 563-288-0220

Department of Human Services, Muscatine County: 563-263-9302

Department of Human Services, Louisa County 319-754-4622 (or toll free 1-800-423-4724 to Des Moines County DHS or call Muscatine County DHS)

Healthy Families, referral information: 1-800-369-2229

Suspected child abuse can be reported by calling 1-800-362-2178

Posted by Nancy at 12:10 PM | Comments (0)

Needs of troubled girls getting more attention

January 12, 2005
By Monica Mendoza

PHOENIX -- Collett spent her teen years moving from one shelter to another after she told state officials she was sexually abused at home.

She lived in at least a dozen from ages 16 to 18, and each time she landed in a new facility there were new counselors and new rules. She never fit in.

"I wish they would have had a group home that was specifically geared toward girls who were abused," said Collett, 21, of Tempe, Ariz. "I wanted something where people understood why I was there."

But most juvenile justice, mental health and child-welfare programs aren't designed for girls.

Boys represent the majority of children in the juvenile justice system, and behavior management programs, which use consequences and rewards, are better suited for them. Girls respond better to one-on-one relationships with counselors, trust and therapy, experts say.

"Girls have been getting the short shrift for a long time," said Marie Dils, policy manager for the Arizona Office of Policy, Strategic Diversity and Equity.

Dils and other Arizona child advocates are leading a national effort to restructure juvenile justice programs for girls, radically shifting the way girls are treated.

This week, more than 400 counselors, youth advocates, probation officers and group-home operators from across the country will meet in Scottsdale, Ariz., to kick off the National Girls Initiative, a conference that aims to shape programs and policies that affect services for girls.

The Girls Initiative is calling for gender-specific programs for girls in the areas of sex education and sexuality, vocational training and education and in mental health services.

"Times are changing," said Maria Garin-Jones, director of youth services for the Child Welfare League of America, a co-sponsor of the conference. "The needs of girls have changed."

A girl may drink or take drugs to hide the pain of sexual abuse. She may cut herself because of depression or post-traumatic stress syndrome connected to abuse. But she is generally punished for her delinquency and not helped to recover from the abuse.

In recent years, the number of girls across the country in the juvenile justice system is on the rise, sparking the discussion about why girls are being arrested. In 2000, girls made up 28 percent of all juvenile arrests, up from 19 percent in 1990, according to the Child Welfare League of America.

Researchers studying girls in detention found that more than 80 percent had a history of trauma, with at least one time in a psychiatric hospital, most likely for a suicide attempt. In Arizona, about half of the 16,000 girls in the state's court system were picked up for running away.

In a recent report by the Girls' Justice Initiative, girls in detention in five states said their biggest frustration was over "dead time" spent in detention with no access to mental health services.

Girls know they need help and start acting out when they don't get it, said Alyssa Rapisarda, clinical supervisor at the Florence Crittenton group home in Phoenix. The 40-bed facility is divided into four groups so counselors work with the same group of girls every day. It's an attempt to build relationships. But time is always limited, and therapy often short-term.

Collett said she felt like she was being punished for being abused. She was depressed. She cut and burned herself.

"I was confused," she said. "I just felt like I was a bad child."

She attended group counseling aimed at girls who drank alcohol and took drugs. At one facility, she took mandatory drug tests every week. But Collett never drank or took drugs.

Today, she works for a vocational recovery program for adults with mental illness. But the road has been tougher and longer than it needed to be, she said.

"It's taken me a long time to figure out that I'm not a bad person," Collett said

Posted by Nancy at 11:58 AM | Comments (0)

Child rapist gets 15 years

January 15, 2005 [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]
By Torsten Ove

Richard Carroll, of Grove City, was sentenced yesterday to nearly 15 years in prison for sexually abusing an 11-year-old girl with the help of her drug-addicted mother.

But before Senior U.S. District Judge William Standish imposed the 175-month term, a prosecutor revealed yet another twist in an already twisted tale of rape and child pornography in which three adults preyed on the girl in Penn Hills and Sharpsburg.

When Carroll was in jail in July 2003, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Tina Miller, another inmate said Carroll tried to hire him to kill the girl, her foster mother and other witnesses.

The inmate said Carroll handed him a piece of paper with the girl's name and address and offered him $18,000 for the murder. Authorities had to move the family to another house.

For the girl, now 16, it was one more torment in a life of abuse that once nearly ended with a suicide attempt as the case wound through court.

"The child victim has touched all of our hearts; she's really one of the bravest people I've ever met," said Miller, a veteran sex-crimes prosecutor. "This child has had to fight her entire life for everything she has ... The beautiful years of her life were taken from her by her mother and Mr. Carroll."

Miller, whom Carroll had previously threatened to murder, ripped into him as someone with "no redeeming qualities whatsoever" and ridiculed his "crocodile tears" in pleading for mercy before the judge.

Carroll, 39, said he suffers from mental problems but told the judge he felt remorse.

"I just feel bad in general," he said. "I hope you're lenient."

The term was not the maximum Miller asked for, but it was more than federal Public Defender Penn Hackney requested. The debate was more convoluted than usual because of the decision this week by the U.S. Supreme Court to make federal sentencing guidelines advisory rather than mandatory, allowing judges more discretion.

The sentence ends one of the most disturbing child-abuse cases prosecuted in recent years in U.S. District Court here.

Last year, the girl testified during a sentencing hearing for her mother, Sharon Dorsch, that her mother stood by and did nothing while Carroll sexually assaulted her over a two-year period beginning in 2000. Dorsch, a 44-year-old cocaine addict from Penn Hills, got the maximum of three years in prison.

In April, she and Carroll had pleaded guilty.

Their former landlord in Penn Hills, Gerald E. Goebert, 50, who had a conviction for sexually abusing his stepdaughter, also was part of the case. He was released in March after serving 27 months in prison for possession of nude photos of Dorsch's daughter, which he got from Carroll.

Carroll sexually abused the girl at a house on Howard Street in Penn Hills by drugging her with Dorsch's Valium pills, forcing her to have sex with him and making her watch him have sex with Dorsch.

He also took nude photos of the girl at a Sharpsburg apartment where he sometimes stayed.

Dorsch allowed the abuse to go on and even told the girl to cooperate because, she said, she was addicted to drugs and was herself being abused by Carroll.

Authorities first became involved with Carroll and Dorsch in 2001, when she called Penn Hills police to ask that Carroll be removed from her house because he was abusive. She obtained an emergency protection-from-abuse order to keep him away from the house. When he came back, officers arrested him.

Later the FBI and U.S. postal inspectors started investigating.

Carroll had lived with Dorsch off-and-on from 1999 through 2001. During that time, Carroll abused the girl repeatedly with Dorsch's help.

The abuse ended in August 2001 after Carroll raped the girl in the bathroom, beat her and threatened to kill her if she told anyone.

Miller told the judge yesterday that the girl is an "extraordinary person." After Dorsch gave birth to a child fathered by Carroll, Dorsch was too strung out on drugs to raise the baby, so the girl essentially took over the role as parent.

She is now in school, has a part-time job and is planning to go to college.

Last year, Miller said she asked her if she could ever forgive her mother. She told the judge the girl told her, "Right now, I can't forgive her. But someday I hope I can."

Posted by Nancy at 05:21 AM | Comments (0)

More abuse allegations surface against priest

January 14, 2005 Fairbanks, AK [News Miner]

Three more men have stepped forward with allegations of sexual abuse against the Rev. Francis X. Nawn.

The attorney for Jack Does 2-4 filed a civil suit Thursday in Bethel Superior Court seeking damages from the Fairbanks Diocese for allowing Nawn, who is believed to be deceased, to prey on children as he ministered in Southwestern Alaska.

Jack Doe 1 came forward last month with abuse allegations against Nawn and another deceased Jesuit priest, the Rev. Segundo Llorente. Jack Does 2-4 accuse only Nawn. The defendants in the suit are the Catholic Bishop of Northern Alaska; the Society of Jesus, Oregon Province; and the Society of Jesus, Alaska.

"I just sort of think this is like all the rest," said Bishop Donald Kettler, who wasn't contacted by the victims prior to the filing of the suit. "We're trying to work with as many as we need to. We're trying to treat everyone fairly and justly."

The three new complaints bring the number of people claiming abuse in the sprawling Fairbanks Diocese to 59. Four priests--Nawn, Llorente, James Poole and Jules Convert--face accusations from 23 people. Only Poole, 81, is still alive. He lives in Spokane, Wash.

Another man, Joseph C. Lundowski, a likely deceased church volunteer with a disputed history, is accused by 34 men of the most serious sexual abuse.

Fourteen of the 18 men accusing Convert of abuse have settled with the Jesuit's Oregon Province, while two have settled with the Fairbanks Diocese. And Patricia Hess, who accused Poole of abuse, settled with the diocese and never filed a legal claim.

Terms of the settlements haven't been disclosed, though attorney Ken Roosa said the Oregon Province agreed to pay for the college education of some of the children of Convert accusers in addition to a cash payment. Jack Does 1-4 are asking for damages of $100,000 on each claim. Roosa and attorneys who represent a victim customarily receive a percentage of any settlement or trial jury award.

Groseclose said church officials have met with about seven of those claiming abuse. Jack Doe 1 has a meeting with Kettler later this month.

"Now that there are three new Jack Does, we can extend an invitation to them," said attorney Robert Groseclose, who represents the diocese.

Roosa, an Anchorage-based lawyer who represents 58 of the 59 people making claims, said previous meetings have been disappointing for his clients.

"We'll go through with it because it's the right thing to do," Roosa said, "but I'm not expecting much out of it."

When asked why, Roosa responded: "They've never been helpful. The bishop has never said anything that was particularly helpful."

The claims filed by Jack Does 2-4 are similar to those of Jack Doe 1. At the time of the abuse, all four men lived in Sheldon Point. State law allows the men to make their claims anonymously in civil court.

Jack Doe 1 accused Nawn of abusing him between the ages of 13 and 14 while Nawn visited Sheldon Point from his normal duties in Holy Cross in 1963 and '64. On more than five separate occasions, according to the complaint, Nawn invited the boy to his quarters to spend the night then abused him.

Jack Doe 2-4 all said they were abused between the years of 1970 and '74 in the same village, which sits on the Black River in the Yukon River Delta. All were under the age of 12 and were sexually abused during what all three men call "wrestling matches."

The men also said Nawn had the boys lay on top of girls in his living quarters and simulate sexual intercourse while he watched. In turn, the suit said, he told each boy it would be a sin to tell anyone about the abuse and gave the child candy.

"Every molester seems to develop a pattern or practice that works for him or her ...," Roosa said. "Once they hit upon something that works, they do it again and again."

No other men have come forward with claims against Llorente. Jack Doe 1's complaint said others were also molested by the priest at the same time he was.

Each of the claims against Nawn indicate the presence of others at the time of some of the abuse. While no one else has come forward, Roosa believes there are more living victims who might file suit.

"I know of over half a dozen other victims," Roosa said. "I have not spoken to them yet. Jack Doe 2 and 3 have given me information about more victims."

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

Ex-Priest Gets Additional Prison Time for Abuse

January 14, 2005 [AP]

PHOENIX - A former Catholic priest already in prison was sentenced to an additional 12 years in prison Friday after he pleaded guilty to child molestation and sexual conduct with a minor.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Ronald Reinstein also gave Lawrence Joseph Lovell, who pleaded in August, five years probation.

The charges involve an altar boy at Saint Anthony in Phoenix about 20 years ago.

In March, Lovell was sentenced to 14 years for charges stemming from another case of child molestation that involved a boy at Sacred Heart Parish in Prescott, where Lovell was a priest in the late 1970s

Posted by Nancy at 05:00 AM | Comments (0)

Covington diocese settles sex-abuse lawsuit

January 15, 2005 [AP]

LEXINGTON, Ky. — The Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington has reached a settlement with a Lexington woman who sued over alleged sexual abuse. Kay Montgomery said she was molested by a priest in the 1960s. She declined to disclose the amount of the settlement.

"The case was never about money," Montgomery's attorney, Al Grasch, said. "The case was about finding out about what the church knew and what they did to conceal it."

Edward Fritsch was the priest identified in Montgomery's lawsuit, but he was not named as a defendant. Fritsch was sent by the Covington Diocese in 1966 to the Owensboro Diocese, where he was assigned to teach at Owensboro Catholic High School. Montgomery said he abused her when she was a ninth-grade student there.

Montgomery refused to agree to a settlement that required her to keep details of the case confidential.

Fritsch was assigned to St. William Church in Lancaster after being ordained in 1965.

Soon after, Fritsch's supervisor, Father Ralph Beiting, wrote in a letter that he had discovered that Fritsch had had "contact with about nine to ten girls." The letter was filed as part of the case.

Fritsch was sent to a psychiatric hospital in Louisville for four months of treatment.

Upon Fritsch's discharge in December 1965, Dr. James Wygal wrote that Fritsch had "tried to become involved with student nurses and some female patients." Wygal recommended that Fritsch be removed from the priesthood "if any more acute episodes occur."

In January 1966, court records show, Fritsch was assigned to a church in Fort Mitchell, but by June of that year he was removed and later suspended after a married woman said he took "sexual liberties" with her.

Fritsch was sent to the Owensboro Diocese after that. Later, after Montgomery transferred to the Academy of the Immaculate Conception in Ferdinand, Ind., she said Fritsch continued the abuse.

Every week, she said, he would come to the school and pick her up, drive her off campus and sexually molest her. She said Fritsch told her that her family would be excommunicated if she told.

Fritsch was removed from duty in 1967, when a Northern Kentucky woman said she was pregnant with his child, according to documents in the case.

He left the priesthood and married in 1969.

Posted by Nancy at 04:47 AM | Comments (0)

Reno man convicted of sexual assault, abuse of daughter

January 14, 2005 Reno, NV [AP]

A 42-year-old Reno man has been convicted of sexually assaulting and abusing his seven-year-old daughter.

A Washoe County district court jury found Roberto Gonzalez guilty Thursday of two counts of sexual assault on a child and one count of child abuse causing substantial bodily harm.

Washoe County District Attorney Richard Gammick says the child abuse charge stems from the fact that Gonzalez transmitted genital herpes to the child. He says the crimes occurred last April,

Gonzalez faces up to life in prison with little chance for parole over the next 50 years. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

Posted by Nancy at 04:41 AM | Comments (0)

Plea entered in child abuse case

January 14, 2005 [Marietta Times]
By Kate York

A Waterford woman pleaded guilty Thursday to child abuse charges that came to light during the investigation of her infant daughter's murder in 2003

Alicia Hanson, 20, of 18189 State Route 339, pleaded guilty to attempted child endangerment, a fourth-degree felony, as part of a plea agreement reached with Washington County prosecutor Jim Schneider. The original second-degree felony charge of felonious assault was thrown out as part of the agreement, as were third-degree charges of perjury.
The charges were all in connection to the murder of Hanson's 2-month-old daughter, Falicia Guidry, who died Nov. 27, 2003, from a blow to the head. Falicia's father, Leopold Patrick Guidry, was convicted of the crime and sentenced to life in prison in August, after telling investigators he struck the child on the head because she was crying during an important part of a movie. He is seeking a new trial on the charge.

Schneider said the plea agreement with Hanson was a way to ensure that she had a felony conviction on her record.

"The felonious assault charge would have been tougher to prove and the perjury charge would have carried a similar punishment to the endangerment," Schneider said. "We wanted to get her for something, and this way we were certain of getting a felony record so that if she's in trouble down the road, the penalty will be stiffer."

Hanson will be sentenced by Washington County Common Pleas Judge Susan Boyer at 8 a.m. March 2 and could receive a maximum of 18 months in jail and a $5,000 fine. The maximum sentence for the original assault charge would have been eight years in prison and a $15,000 fine.

Signs of abuse were discovered by doctors after Falicia was admitted to the hospital with the head injury that killed her. During Guidry's murder trial, Hanson admitted to hitting and shaking her baby.

"The medical professionals who treated and examined her were all convinced the rib injuries they found were several weeks old and not the cause of death," Schneider said. "If a jury had found that she had struck her child but it didn't cause serious harm, we would have lost the felonious assault conviction."

Hanson has been in jail on $50,000 bond since September and will remain there after Thursday's hearing.

She came to court handcuffed, wearing an orange jumpsuit, and spent nearly half an hour before the hearing laughing and talking with her attorney, Nancy Brum.

The plea agreement may be helpful to Guidry in his attempt to get a new trial, said Guidry's attorney, Janet McKim.

Guidry filed a motion for a new trial in August after McKim received a letter from Hanson confessing that she had killed the baby. At a hearing to determine whether Guidry would get a new trial, Hanson then testified that she had not written the letter and did not recognize it.

She was charged with perjury after investigators found evidence in her home that she had sent the letter and recorded phone conversations between Guidry and Hanson while he was in the Washington County Jail included Hanson's confession that she had written the letter.

Guidry's attempt for a new trial will resume once the taped conversations are made into transcripts.

"The (plea agreement) is a bonus for (Guidry)," McKim said Thursday. "While she was facing perjury charges, we couldn't put her back on the stand but now we can. At least now we can find an answer and (Guidry) can get on with his life."

Schneider said the state is not going to pursue murder charges against Hanson unless she confesses again to killing her daughter.

Brum advised Hanson Thursday that she may have to appear in court for Guidry's proceedings.

"I'll be there with you," she told her client before saying emphatically, "but you are going to have to tell the truth."

Posted by Nancy at 04:33 AM | Comments (0)