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January 20, 2005

Stepfather Will Serve 50-60 Years In Toddler's Death

Brianna Pope Died After Repeated Abuse
January 2005

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.

Posted by Nancy at 07:44 PM | Comments (0)

Background checks considered for Peters coaches

January 19, 2005 [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]
By Mary Niederberger

Coaches in youth leagues in Peters will be required to get state police criminal background checks and Pennsylvania child abuse history clearances if the parks and recreation board gives official approval to the idea at its meeting tomorrow night.

It appears the township would become the first in that area to require such checks of coaches in township youth leagues, said Recreation Director Ed Figas. Figas said he polled other area municipalities and could find no others requiring the checks.

The Diocese of Pittsburgh has required the criminal history check and child abuse clearances for the past several years for coaches at its schools.

During a joint meeting between Peters council and its parks and recreation board members Monday, council members outlined why they wanted the checks required and recreation board members gave reasons for their hesitation to require both.

Board members did not object to requiring a child abuse history clearance, but said they weren't comfortable requiring a criminal history background check because they didn't want to be placed in the position of determining which crimes from an individual's past should disqualify them from coaching.

Councilman Michael Neville, the most vocal proponent of requiring the checks, said those decisions could be made by parks and recreation staff members and not by the appointed board members.

Neville has long argued that the checks are necessary to protect children and to protect the municipality from liability.

He said a person had to first get a state police criminal history check before he could apply for child abuse clearance.

Figas said the parks and recreation department would not keep the criminal history reports on file. He said prospective coaches would be required to show the criminal record check forms they receive back from the state police and the child abuse clearances they receive from the state Department of Welfare to the designated parks and recreation staff member.

If there is a crime on the criminal history report, then the parks and recreation staff will determine if it's a crime that would affect the individual's ability to coach.

But that information would never be released publicly, Figas said. The only document that will be released to the sports leagues would be a list of approved coaches.

Figas said parks and recreation staff members would meet with the township solicitor to come up with criteria that will determine which crimes would prohibit someone from becoming a coach.

Posted by Nancy at 07:39 PM | Comments (0)

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.

Posted by Nancy at 07:35 PM | Comments (0)

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

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

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.

Posted by Nancy at 03:44 PM | Comments (0)

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.

Posted by Nancy at 03:44 PM | Comments (0)

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.

Posted by Nancy at 03:38 PM | Comments (0)

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.

Posted by Nancy at 03:34 PM | Comments (0)

Bishop Meets With Baldacci, Lawmakers; Offers Support For Child Abuse Laws

January 19, 2005 [Associated Press]

AUGUSTA, Maine -- Maine's Roman Catholic bishop is pledging support for tougher laws against child sexual abuse.

Bishop Richard Malone told Gov. Baldacci and legislators Tuesday that such laws would help the church repair damage caused by abusive priests.

He cited no specific legislation but noted that several bills being drafted would strengthen efforts of the state and the church to protect children.

In his luncheon remarks, Malone did not tip his hand on the church's stance on a gay-rights bill that Baldacci is expected to propose later this year. But Malone did say he would oppose same-sex marriage, push for improved health care for the poor and try to add a moral dimension to State House debates.

Posted by Nancy at 03:28 PM | Comments (0)

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.

Posted by Nancy at 03:24 PM | Comments (0)

Child abuse: how to prevent it

January 20, 2005 [Daily Globe] Ironwood, MI
By Margaret Levra

Sexual predators may come disguised as neighbors, friends or even relatives, and parents should discuss the "what-ifs" with their children.

"There are many 'good touch, bad touch situations out there,' said Iron County District Attorney Marty Lipske. "You should discuss with family members on a regular basis if someone is having bad contact with them, because our best source of finding these offenders would be through their discussions."

Lipske advises parents to have a family photo album available during the discussions. "Perhaps of friends and family. Show these pictures to your children."

Families need to talk about possible sexual assaults. "That is what families need to talk about...if it happens to them," he said.

"The quicker we professionally deal with the issue, the better chance we have to stop the cycle."

According to statistics, one in four girls and one in about six boys will be victims of sexual assault during their childhoods.

About 92 percent of those sexually assaulted know the offender, he added.

Lipske said a large number of the sexually assaulted later become predators.

Parents should also be concerned about use of computers by their children.

"Who's watching you on the Internet? Chatrooms may be a dangerous place to go," Lipske said. "When your child is chatting with someone on the Internet, do you know who's on the other end?" Lipske asked.

He said his department is reviewing "more and more computer issues."

Sexual assaults not only have a detrimental effect on victims, but also weigh heavy on families, friends and others who come into contact with the victims.

"For a child, coping begins with the telling -- the report of the abuse to a trusted adult," said Carolyn Kolson-Janov, director of the Iron County Human Services Department.

The response to the report is critical, she said. "If the child is believed, and is not made to feel guilt or shame, healing may begin."

The support of family members and counseling with a trained professional are also extremely important, she said. The level of the child's involvement in the criminal court process should correspond with his or her age and level of maturity, Kolson-Janov noted.

To help a child victim cope with his or her trauma, it is important to accurately understand the impact child sexual abuse has on a molested child, Kolson-Janov said.

"Guilt and shame eat away at self-esteem. Keeping the secret about the abuse is part of the trauma and contributes to lowered self-esteem, and hence, depression," she noted.

"Other mood disturbances are also prevalent in child victims -- panic attacks, anxiety disorders and personality disorders," she said, noting child victims are also much more likely to suffer from drug and alcohol addictions, and are at significant risk of suicide.

It is unlikely a young victim will survive sexual abuse unscathed, Kolson-Janov said, adding, "It is vital that resources be dedicated to the prevention of child sexual abuse.

"Current child sexual abuse prevention strategies require children to be in charge of their own protection. They are taught about 'good-touch, bad-touch,' told to say 'no' to those who try to harm them, are asked to relay this information to trusted adults, and are instructed to keep telling until they are believed," Kolson-Janov said.

Rather than relying on children to be the principal line of defense, "It is time for adults to take over the job of protecting children by no longer giving molesters access to the children," she said.

To protect children, "Parents must learn to understand molesters and recognize their methods," Kolson-Janov said.

"Parents and teachers need to learn how to recognize the processes utilized by molesters to lull adults into compliance, and groom their potential victims."

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

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.

Posted by Nancy at 03:15 PM | Comments (0)

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

Posted by Nancy at 03:11 PM | Comments (0)