Wednesday, May 29, 2013

EVERY Case Of Child Abuse Must Be Reported To The Police!

Police overwhelmed by tsunami of child sex abuse images!

The latest figures from the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) make depressing reading. The volume of child abuse images being reported and detected on the internet continues to increase and not in small steps but in huge ones.

In their latest report the IWF recorded 40% growth year on year and the proportion of material featuring the sexual abuse of children under the age of 10 is also up, from 81% to 88% of all the illegal images examined. 61% of these images depicted images of rape or torture.

While technological changes may account for some of the increased level of reports the overall trajectory is abundantly clear. Things are not getting better.

Moreover it’s important to remember the IWF only deals with parts of the internet not all of it. There are huge swathes of cyberspace where the IWF has no writ, where only the police can act. I’m thinking in particular about peer-to-peer networks.

In my travels around the world I meet law enforcement officers from lots of countries and they all say the same thing: they are overwhelmed by the volume of child abuse images, and that’s only the ones they know about. They cannot investigate all of it. They are managing a crisis.

Every day police officers are making triage decisions as a means of determining which cases to take up next. The most urgent or maybe sometimes the easiest will be selected while the rest get stuck in that great invisible inbox in the sky. Returning to Britain the police are cagey about how well they are coping with the tsunami of online child abuse images but in times of austerity, with police cutbacks, it is impossible to imagine we are completely on top of it.

Occasionally we get glimpses of the scale of the problem that the UK has to face in the 21st Century. The NSPCC issued freedom of information requests to police forces in England and Wales asking them to disclose how many child abuse images they had seized in a two year period up to April, 2012. Only five forces replied.

Between them they had seized 26 million. If those numbers were ramped up across the whole country this means anywhere between 150 and 360 million images may have been seized by all forces in the same timeframe.

These are truly mind-boggling numbers, particularly when set against the grand total of 7,000 images the UK police knew about in 1995, arguably the Internet’s Year Zero.

How many people are trading in child abuse images?

Peter Davies, CEO of the UK’s specialist policing unit for online crimes against children, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, (CEOP) last year revealed that they were aware of between 50,000 and 60,000 individuals swapping or downloading child abuse images over peer to peer networks.

We were assured these people would be “hunted down” and maybe they will, be but we should note that in no year since records began have the police in England and Wales ever arrested more than 2,500 individuals for child abuse image related offences.

Who are they?

What do we know about these 50,000-60,000 people? Again according to CEOP, aside from the crime they have committed by downloading a child abuse image in the first place, each person has to be regarded as a potential child abuser in the future.

Now it is exceptionally unlikely that even half of the given total will go so far as to molest their own or anyone else’s children but we just do not yet have sophisticated enough tools to identify the most likely individuals.

Conservatively around 15% may go that far but it may well be higher. Thus, the police have in their hands right now the identities of, at least, somewhere between 7,500 and 9,000 individuals who will probably commit a hands on sexual offence against a child but I see no serious signs of anything like that number being pinpointed and arrested any time soon. I’m amazed there aren't demonstrations in Trafalgar Square about this shocking state of affairs.

Stop the first crime being committed

As with any and every area of criminal activity the single most important objective of policy has to be stopping a person from committing their first crime, the one that sets them off on a pathway to further crimes. This is particularly true in the case of child abuse image offences where undoubtedly there is a highly opportunistic element to the crime of downloading. People working psychotherapeutically with men convicted of child abuse images offences reckon that at least half of them would never have got involved with the images in the first place if there had been even the most minimal barriers, diversions or warnings put in their way.

In the UK if someone tries to use the internet to reach an internet address that is known to contain child abuse images, depending on the access provider, they may well find they receive a message which reads something like this. You have attempted to reach an address which contains illegal child abuse images. This may have been accidental but if it was not and you persist you should know that the police may be able to discover who you are and where you live.

A substantial proportion of people reading that message will get the fright of their lives and a high percentage of them will never try it again, not least because they will know that any illusions about them being able to shelter behind the internet’s anonymity are simply that, illusions. I think we need to find ways to get more messages like this to the right people at the right time.

“You have attempted to reach an address which contains illegal child abuse images. This may have been accidental but if it was not and you persist you should know that the police may be able to discover who you are and where you live.

Here’s my suggestion: all the search engine companies have a lexicon of paedophilic search terms. The IWF compiles it. Every time anyone enters a query which indicates they are looking for child abuse images a message of the sort I have just shown should flash up on their screen.

We shouldn’t wait until they happen upon or find an illegal address. Then it’s probably too late. The crime has been committed. We should try to knock them off course before then.

Norton has constructed a wonderful tool that warns you if a web site you might be thinking about visiting has got poor security or may contain malware of various kinds. Maybe they could find a way to utilise the child abuse dictionary to warn people that this or that site may contain illegal child abuse content? Again this would strip away the naïve belief that you can surf without consequences. As a result children would be saved from the ordeal of abuse.

Finally I think all of the search engine companies should either take a great deal more care about the sort of ostensibly legal porn sites they provide access to e.g. only allow sites within the .xxx domain, or they should set themselves up as being entirely porn free by default.

Obviously the search engines will rarely if ever provide anyone with a direct path to a site providing child abuse images but they will often take to you hard core porn sites which, through links, will almost certainly eventually get you to such sites.

We cannot solve this problem through conventional policing methods.

The high tech industries need to get on board or face ever more strident calls for tighter internet regulation.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Worse than blaming victims!

By Dr. Michael Salamon

Zelig (not his real name), a man in his 20′s, arrived to his therapy appointment with me yesterday with tears streaming down his cheeks. He was clearly in distress. At the age of twelve Zelig was molested by a teacher, a rabbi who was giving him “special” attention at the yeshiva he was attending at the time. Zelig had been groomed by this man for close to a year before anything happened. “For a long time he gave me little presents like chocolate or a rubber ball” and “ he told me to tell my parents that he was teaching me so that I could be the smartest kid in his class. My parents never questioned why, they just thought he was being super nice to me. Maybe they were even flattered by it.” The actual touching did not begin until this teacher was hired by Zelig’s parents to give bar-mitzvah lessons to Zelig. Once the touching started it quickly progressed to penetration. Zelig was told by the man that if Zelig ever told anyone about it his parents would both die. He was also told that it was “so pleasurable that such pleasures were meant to be kept a secret between us because that is the way G-d wants it.”

Zelig told me the details of his abuse at the hands of this teacher several months ago. These memories were not the cause for his tears yesterday. The cause was an article he read in the American paper the Jewish Press written by a Rabbi William Handler. The article entitled Molestation cases must be handled by g’dolim, not by experts, begins with a diatribe that says that there is “a new danger: the existence of a clique of pseudo-experts who are working among us in the field of “Criminal Molestation.”’ He goes on to state that g’dolim are better equipped to evaluate and perhaps even adjudicate these cases than the “so-called experts” and professionals who operate in the secular realm. It is an argument that even the editors of the paper indicate, is not well made and in my estimation it is not even an argument worthy of being made by a reasonable individual.

Zelig’s response was to tell me yet again that when he turned 16 and told his principal what his abuser had done he was warned that if he did not put it in the past he would “ruin all my chances and my sister’s chances for getting married or getting into the right schools.” Zelig asked me, rhetorically, “And these are the people that should be trusted to take care of the problem? My principal is considered a gadol. See how he took care of it! What would happen if they had such power to take care of things?”

Zelig went on “And it’s not just him. There is an even bigger gadol who wrote a letter saying that the rabbi in Lakewood who just admitted in open court that he abused someone – that gadol Rabbi who wrote the letter claims that he did an investigation and there was no abuse. The authorities investigated. The authorities did what had to be done and the ba_ _ _ _ _ admitted he was an abuser. That someone who is seen as a gadol can write a letter to the public the charges against the abuser are not true – this is worse than blaming the victims it is re-abusing them.”

Zelig was feeling a very palpable sense of being re-abused by what he read and was then recounting to me and we had to use the session for the sole purpose of helping him regain his composure and focus - but he was absolutely correct. The article in the Jewish Press is one level of absurdity and illogic but if it is true that a gadol sent out a letter denying charges proven and admitted to in court that casts an entirely new light on how the leadership views cases of reported abuse. Blaming victims is horrible and still so common. It is however, even worse to deny that abuse exists and then to turn the powers of investigations, prosecution, even validation over to the hands of individuals who feign knowledge but have none, using their status to intimidate and dismiss people with problems that these leaders are not willing to acknowledge exist in their communities. We are only beginning to adress the problem. We need forward moving leaders to help us uproot the abusers, not seek excuses or ways to protect them allowing them to continue and re-abuse.


Dr Michael Salamon, a fellow of the American Psychological Association, is the founder and director of ADC Psychological Services in New York. He is the author of numerous articles, several psychological tests and books including "The Shidduch Crisis: Causes and Cures" (Urim Publications) and "Every Pot Has a Cover" (University Press of America). His newest book is called "Abuse in the Jewish Community: Religious and Communal Factors that Undermine the Apprehension of Offenders and the Treatment of Victims.".

Monday, May 27, 2013

Jewish Rabbis Fail at Stopping Child Abuse!

Good people cannot accept the evil and sick deeds that are done by some in our community.

On Sunday we published an article by Rabbi William Handler, warning against automatically turning over cases of suspected child abuse to the authorities, where he argues that said authorities had been incompetent at handling these cases and, in fact, had a vested interest in spotting abuse where there may be none.

The discussion of that article has been exemplary in terms of the civility and seriousness of the comments. Not one reader agreed with the author’s opinion, and still the discussion was—and is—being conducted among adults, who are able to distinguish between message and messenger. It made me proud to serve our readers.

Since we encouraged response articles, we received a few, which we’re in the process of processing, so to speak (line editor, heal thyself?). The one you’ve clicked to, was submitted by Moshe Handler (no idea if the two authors are related) who hosts a weekly talk show at jewishtalkradio.com.

Interestingly, while this author rebukes the yeshiva system for shuffling their “perv” rebbes from one location to another, his recommendation is to improve and enhance the yeshivas’ ability to dig up their bad apples, rather than to turn abuse cases to the authorities. To be fair, he was focusing on the failures of the system, but it is interesting that calling in outside agencies is not part of his solution.

Your submitted articles are welcome, and I urge everyone to continue and maintain the civil conduct which have become synonymous with The Jewish Press online.

Too many Jewish Rabbis and institutions turn a blind eye towards child abuse even when it’s obvious that it’s occurred. I know this from experience not opinion.

When I was a young counselor working in Camp Kol Ree Nah (a great camp run by Rabbi Yaakov Greenwald), I was warned that on my days off, when I would visit another popular camp, I should stay away from its head counselor who was a known child abuser. Remarkably, even though it was virtually public knowledge that this man was a creep who should have never been allowed near children, he was not exposed until more than thirty years had passed and parents complained about his behavior around their children.

Just last week, that same Rabbi’s nephew admitted his guilt in court as a child molester in a Lakewood Yeshiva. The Sunday before his admission, a very prominent rabbi released a public letter declaring that he investigated the case and declared Rabbi Yosef Kolko to be 100% innocent. Even more, he accused the parents of the child of being the actual molesters and of trying to get Rabbi Kolko in trouble to cover up their misdeeds.

I understand how it is that good people cannot accept the evil and sick deeds that are done by some in our community. When you yourself are a good person you think of others as good. Unfortunately, in real life defending creeps without investigating the facts is a dangerous road to travel. When the creeps are not punished and are actually defended, you are not doing anyone a favor. Worse, these people will molest others and those victims may be damaged for life. For the sake of these victims, it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee.

Rabbi Kolko used to be a rebbe in a much respected Yeshiva in Brooklyn. When his true character came to light, they got rid of the problem by promising him a letter of recommendation if he would resign. That’s how he got to be a rebbe in Lakewood. This case is not an exception. I know of many yeshivot that shifted their problems this way.

It’s sort of like a game we used to play called “Bomb.” You would wind up a Plastic “bomb” and it would start ticking. The game players would stand in a circle and keep throwing the toy bomb to one another. If you dropped the bomb or if the bell would go off while it was in your hands, you lost the game. The yeshivot are, unfortunately, busy protecting their reputations by playing “bomb” with dangerous, live pervert rebbes who are destructive even when they are still ticking. But they quickly pass these rebbes around before it is revealed they have such a person on their staff.

It’s time for yeshivot to stop the game of Bomb and start playing Whack-a-Mole. Get rid of the rebbes who are perverts right away. Notify every other Yeshiva to stay away from these guys, so that no more children have to suffer.

Our community leaders need to appoint a group of Rabbis who would be trained to recognize true child molestation cases. If a child molester is revealed, he must be kept away from children immediately. If there is unquestionable evidence of guilt, let the molester rot in jail. I must remind the reader that if a man sets out to murder you, you are allowed to stop him by any means necessary. That’s Halacha.

More important, we have to take steps never to allow abuse to happen in the first place. When I worked in Camp Kol Ree Nah, I was amazed that every single bunk had no doors. They were removed to prevent any immoral incidents. Bravo to Rabbi Yaakov Greenwald for recognizing the potential problem and doing everything in his power to protect the kids.

We must acknowledge that the problem exists and that we have to keep our kids away from rebbes who are perverts. Not to do so is an insult to the vast majority of rebbes who are dedicated to the welfare of their kids. Our leaders must lead by showing a zero tolerance policy to those who think our children are personal playthings. A leader’s job is to stand up and protect our future no matter how uncomfortable that may feel.


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Police Reopen Case About Death Of 15 Year Old Chaim Weiss!

Police are reopening a cold case regarding the death of a 15-year-old rabbinical student from Staten Island.

Chaim Weiss was found dead by a dormitory supervisor at the Mesivta of Long Island, an Orthodox Jewish high school, in 1986.

At first, police said Weiss was bludgeoned to death, but the next day they said he died of multiple stab wounds to the head, neck and face.

No murder weapon was found and the case went cold more than 20 years ago.

Police are expected to hold a press conference with the family next week and raise the reward for information leading to an arrest.

MORE: http://bronx.news12.com/news/police-reopen-cold-case-about-death-of-staten-island-15-year-old-chaim-weiss-1.5317420?firstfree=yes

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Sex Offender Village - Build One In Jewish New York

WATCH VIDEO: http://nyti.ms/10kRIAD

For this Op-Doc video, we visited a small community in Florida known as “Miracle Village,” where more than 100 registered sex offenders have settled since 2009. Surrounded by sugar cane fields, the community has become a rare refuge for them as they try to rebuild their lives in one of the only communities that will have them: stringent residency requirements make it almost impossible for them to live anywhere else.

We come to this documentary from two very different perspectives. Lisa has spent years examining sex crimes from the victim’s point of view, making documentaries that try to de-stigmatize the survivors and argue for their access to justice. David spent his years as a public defender in Brooklyn, Harlem and the Bronx, defending people accused of doing the victimizing. These contrasting perspectives have made for a lively collaboration in which we have found common ground.

We live in a society that is terrified of sex offenders, sometimes with good reason. But in some cases the perpetrators, and not just the victims, are denied justice. Every high-profile sex crime spawns a rush to do something about the “predators” among us. Unfortunately, these so-called solutions are doing more harm than good. In the past 25 years, the laws governing sex offenses have gone from punitive to draconian to senseless. The term “sex offender” simply covers too wide a range now, painting the few truly heinous crimes and the many relatively innocuous ones with the same broad brush. This overly broad approach wastes resources that could be better spent, for instance, on clearing the huge and unforgivable backlog of untested rape evidence kits.

We see even deeper problems: the explosion of sex offender registries, stringent yet demonstrably ineffective residency restrictions, and the bizarre world of “civil commitment,” where we punish what someone might do rather than what he or she has done. All of this suggests that our entire approach to dealing with sex offenders has gone tragically off the rails.

Lisa F. Jackson is an Emmy-winning documentary filmmaker based in New York. Her last film, “Sex Crimes Unit,” chronicled prosecutors in the Manhattan district attorney’s office and “The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo” won a special jury prize for documentary at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival.

David Feige, a television writer and former Trial Chief of the Bronx Defenders, is the co-creator of the T.N.T. series “Raising the Bar” and the author of “Indefensible: One Lawyer’s Journey Into the Inferno of American Justice.” He has written about law for The New York Times Magazine, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post and Slate.

Any argument that seeks to treat violent sex offense as if it were similar to lesser crimes, for which a perpetrator might reasonably expect a second chance once a prison debt is paid to society, likely will not find a large, sympathetic audience.

Sexual predation is not like other crimes, particularly when its victims are the very young, as they often are. They suggest not so much a choice by the perpetrator but a pathology that we haven't yet as a society been willing to treat as such, separating its sufferers from society at large in order to protect that society; at least until competent psychologists pronounce the sufferer sufficiently "cured" that he no longer presents an acute threat.

And a "sex offender village" is unlikely to reassure the population, as it gives the impression of a bunch of seriously troubled people seeking to cure themselves of a psychosis with minimal help -- where that same population becomes victim to any failure to find an individual cure.

Residency restrictions that compel former offenders into such a "village" are understandable given rational fears. But the only real solution is to approach violent sexual predation as a disease and treat it as such, perhaps for life; instead of a crime of choice that merely needs to be punished. Until we do this, we're not helping the predators and we're not protecting our communities.


Monday, May 20, 2013

Series: Education is key to prevention of child sex abuse

This is the third in a four-part series on child sexual abuse. On Tuesday, a victim tells her story in the Aiken Standard.

Nelson Mandela, who was South Africa's first black president, once described education as “the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Education also is an important tool in the prevention of child sexual abuse.

Series: Advocacy center aids victims of child abuse“Children are taught to obey adults, and that is a good thing,” said Gayle Lofgren, executive director of the Child Advocacy Center of Aiken County. “But kids also need to know there are times when it's appropriate for them to say no.”

According to Lofgren, parents need tow warn their offspring about the threat of sexual abuse and teach them how to protect themselves from being molested.

“Sit down and talk with them about what kind of touching is OK and what kind of touching is not OK,” she said. “Tell them a hug is OK if it's from somebody they want it from. But if they don't want a hug from someone, and they feel uncomfortable, tell them it's OK to say no. Then teach them how to say no in a nice way and let them do some role-playing exercises involving different situations.”

Lofgren recommended a book called “The Swimsuit Lesson” to parents who are uneasy about discussing sexual abuse with their children. Written by Jon Holsten, a retired police sergeant and child sex crimes investigator in Colorado, the book teaches youngsters that it is inappropriate for someone to touch the parts of their bodies that are covered by their bathing suits. It also has a parents' guide offering advice about talking to children about sexual abuse.

“There are some really good pointers,” Lofgren said.

Copies of “The Swimsuit Lesson” are available online at www.amazon.com.

In the Aiken County Public School District, guidance counselors are responsible for educating children about protecting themselves from sexual abuse, according to Gina Bassford, who is the district's liaison for counseling services. She said they follow a set of standards known as “The South Carolina Comprehensive Developmental Guidance and Counseling Program Model.” Under those standards, counselors identify and explain appropriate and inappropriate touching to prekindergarten through fifth grade students as part of their efforts to teach them safety and survival skills.

“There is no mandate to specify how counselors cover that, so it gives them the freedom to tailor their guidance to their students; they are the ones who know their students best,” Bassford said. “I know they particularly talk to children a lot about safety before they go home from school for the summer because the structure of their schedules change. They're with different caregivers and things like that.”

At least two bills that address child sexual abuse education in the public schools have been introduced in the South Carolina House of Representatives.

One of those bills would make changes to South Carolina law to require school districts to provide age-appropriate instruction in sexual abuse and assault awareness. It also would require the State Board of Education to select or develop the instructional units that would be used in such education. Those units, according to the bill, should be appropriate for each age level from 4-year-old kindergarten through 12th grade.

The other bill would require the State Board of Education to develop curricula and other written materials to educate students, school personnel and parents and guardians about child sexual abuse. It also would require local school districts to maintain a list of school and community resources that provide services for children who may be victims of sexual abuse.

Both bills were referred to the House Education and Public Works Committee. The next step would be for those bills to be considered by that committee's K-12 Subcommittee, but that hadn't happened as of the end of last week, said Bill Taylor, a representative from Aiken County. The 2013 regular session of the 120th South Carolina General Assembly is scheduled to end June 6. There will be another regular session in 2014.

“Given the crunch of time, they probably won't be heard this year, but they could be heard starting next year,” said Taylor, who is the 1st Vice Chairman of the Education and Public Works Committee and also is a member of the K-12 Subcommittee. “Because we're only in the first year of a two-year legislative meeting, bills can stay alive and keep moving or keep not moving as the case may be. It's not until the end of the second year that they all die.”

While Taylor said he considers child sexual abuse education an important issue and he supports it, he wasn't sure bills addressing it were needed. According to Taylor, the State Department of Education provided him with information that many teachers in South Carolina had received training involving child sexual abuse education in recent years from an organization called Darkness to Light.

“I sometimes question whether it's necessary for the State Department of Education to develop curriculum; that's not really its job,” Taylor said. “What is there to prevent the local school districts from taking this on and enhancing their programs if they don't think they're up to full speed? I thoroughly embrace home rule.”

Read more: Series: Education is key to prevention of child sex abuse
Aiken Standard

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Monday, May 13, 2013

Could Be Titled - "I Was Groped By A Rabbi"!

I Was Groped on the Subway

I was late as usual, weaving through the 72nd Street subway station, rushing down the stairs to catch a departing train, and managed to squeeze into one of the packed cars just in time. It was Friday, a few weeks after my 29th birthday. I was on my way downtown to my job at my family’s taxi business, casually dressed in leggings and a striped orange dress. I pushed my still wet hair out of my face and found a sliver of space to stand. As the doors were closing, one more person shoved his way in and the car let out a collective groan.

As the train pulled away from the platform, I felt a man pressing harder and harder against my backside. I tried to evade him but couldn’t move an inch in any direction. I looked over my shoulder thinking the buckle of his bag must have been digging into me but there was no bag. Only his navy sweat pants. Is that what I think it is? It can’t be.

I shifted my hip to the right and then the left, but his body shifted with me. My eyes darted to each of the commuters around me, mutely asking for help. When none of their eyes met mine, I wanted to say something but no words came out. I held my breath until we got to the next stop.

When we arrived at Times Square, I pushed passed him with the force of the other riders behind me. I said nothing as I glanced down to see the bulge below his waist.

A woman approached me as I made my way to the exit, relieved to finally be off the train. She flashed a badge. “Can I ask you some questions?”

“Oh, no, ” I said, reflexively panicking the same way I do when I pass a cop car parked on the side of a highway, even if I’m driving 5 miles below the speed limit.

We stepped to the side as people rushed past.

“I think something happened back there,” she said. “Do you want to tell me about it?”

I knew that she knew and I just started talking.

“I froze. I had no room to move. If I made a scene he could have taken out a knife,” I said, looking at my feet and feeling like a coward with a bunch of excuses.

Why hadn’t I yelled, or elbowed him? Why didn’t I ask the people around me for help? I thought for a moment that I might be crazy, that I was making it all up.

The undercover officer asked if I would give her a written statement right there. I nodded, and she handed me a piece of paper. My hand shook as I wrote, my words jumbled. Finally, I handed her the sheet filled with crossed out inappropriate words replaced by slightly less inappropriate words. She said her partner would come talk to me in a minute and pointed toward a bench. There was the man in the navy sweat pants. He sat calmly, hands cuffed behind his back with a plastic zip tie. I hadn’t even realized they had stopped him, let alone that they were arresting him.

The other officer, a man wearing camouflage cargo shorts and a ripped T-shirt, told me they were watching for pickpockets, but that groping was “the real epidemic.”

“I saw your face first,” he said. “I have daughters and a wife, so I knew right away what that look meant. Makes me sick.” He assured me there was little I could have done, that my groper had picked the busiest train at the peak of rush hour for that very reason. I clung onto his words, grateful for his empathy.

He asked if I rode the train often and if it had happened before. It had, but I had never reported the incidents and had only defended myself once, calling the guy disgusting and moving to the other side of the car.

He asked me to walk by the bench to identify the man. I hesitated, afraid to have the groper see my face, but the officer stayed by my side. I nodded my head and quickly turned in the opposite direction.

Later, when I told my friends what had happened, they hugged me and a few shared their own similar experiences. Mostly, though, they were sure they would have been tougher: they would have kicked the abuser, screamed, pushed their way through the layers of fellow riders.

My husband and I practiced how I would react if it happened again: I would use my voice. Get away from me! Back off! Maybe I would toss a few expletives in. Except I didn’t intend for it to happen again. I wasn’t planning on taking the subway anymore, at least during peak hours. When I told my husband this, he was surprised. He was used to a resilient, strong wife. He knows I come across strange characters often in my male-dominated business and he was always proud to hear how I handled myself. When a client called me Honey or Sugar Lips I’d say, “I prefer to be called Kim.” I had no problem putting my hand up to interrupt a client who was being rude to one of the other women in the office.

But the truth is, I’ve always been secretly skittish, especially when I’m by myself. When I walked down the dark, empty industrial streets near my Long Island City office, I imagined being dragged into one of the dark warehouses, and held my keys in between my fingers in my pocket for protection. Even in my Upper West Side doorman building, I scurry from the elevator into my apartment each night.

Now I am just as anxious underground. Partly, it’s because I’m terrified to see my groper, but I’m also uncertain whether I’ll be able to muster the courage to stand up to a future assaulter.

When the district attorney’s office called to review the charges of sexual assault in the third degree and forcible touching, I asked if my name could be removed from the report. He already has your name from the arraignment, they said. But, don’t worry — he probably didn’t pay attention. I worried he might come after me seeking revenge. I knew the district attorney had no case without my signature. If I wanted any chance of stopping or punishing the guy, I had to give my name and sign a formal complaint and deposition.

I couldn’t be a coward again.

My fears may have immobilized me before, but this seemed like my chance to be a braver version of myself. I signed my name and instantly felt stronger. Almost strong enough to commute by subway again.


Yosef Kolko Pleads Guilty In Plea-Deal!

1:16 PM EST

Kolko agrees to a 10 year sentence according to multiple reliable sources!


Former NJ yeshiva teacher, camp counselor pleads guilty to sexually assaulting boy, is jailed!

Two more victims come forward over the weekend!

AP - TOMS RIVER, N.J. — A former yeshiva teacher has pleaded guilty to charges he sexually assaulted a 12-year-old boy he met while working as a counselor for a camp run by a religious school in Lakewood, N.J.

Rabbi Yosef Kolko on Monday entered the pleas on what was to have been the third day of his trial in Toms River, N.J., and his bail was revoked.

The abuse occurred from 2008 to early 2009, when the boy told his father, also a rabbi.

His father had initially wanted the case handled within Lakewood’s Orthodox Jewish community but decided in mid-2009 to take the case to authorities.

Kolko’s attorney says he is extremely remorseful and apologizes to the victim and his family.

He pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual assault, attempted aggravated sex assault, sexual assault and child endangerment.


Do everything to protect your family against child molesters!

By Susan H. Oliva \ Guest columnist

If you have a radio, television or Internet access, I guarantee you have heard the about the recent Cleveland child abduction case that involves three young women. As a nation, we should find this case very disturbing.

Every hour, more details are disclosed by the three young women held captive. These young women are survivors of both physical and sexual abuse. It is horrible to imagine 10 years of tragic abuse happening right next door. Child sexual abuse is a community problem and happens next door every day.

Everyone must be aware, and do their part, to prevent, report and protect our children. Child molesters are someone you know -- but you don't really know -- because they hide who they really are.

Stranger child abductions do happen, and it makes the headlines, but far more often children are sexually assaulted by their own family members or someone they know really well.

Where do we find, and who is, a child molester? Research demonstrates that the child sexual offender is a family friend or one of the many professionals or volunteer staff who come in contact with our children every day. Sex offenders work very hard to seduce and silence their victims, but they also work very hard to deceive adults, and pretend they are model citizens.

Child molesters do their best to appear stable, employed and respectable. They live in nice houses, go to church, eat in restaurants, and pay their taxes. In the Cleveland case one of the neighbors stated they knew the alleged offender "all of their life, and believed he was a good person."

As hard as it is to believe, three out of four sexual offenders were already preying on victims before they reached their 18th birthday. They want to be perceived as "good people."

Talk to your children. It is essential that you believe and support your child. If your child tells you about "inappropriate touching," do not automatically make excuses for the adult your child disclosed about. If they say they do not want to go to someone's house, ask why.

The child is telling you because they trust you, and they want the abuse to stop. Children need to know you will believe them, as well as protect them. They may feel they have let you down because they were touched and never told, despite your warnings.

Unless we step-up and pay attention, we will be no match for child molesters. A child molester is active in the child's life through family, school, neighborhood or church. They are very good at convincing people that the child is mistaken, or that they were "just wrestling or playing." The molester may know you (the parent) and without a doubt, they believe that you will believe them, and not your child.

Let your child know that if something happens it is not their fault, and they will not be in trouble. Let your child know that if they cannot tell you, they should tell another adult, perhaps a relative or school counselor.

Child abuse prevention programs help, but they cannot do it alone. As parents you must talk to your children. Let them know that they are able to tell you anything. Listen, communicate and believe. Child abuse is an extremely underreported crime. Tragically, most child abuse cases will never be reported. Nationally it is believed for every one child abuse victim identified, 10 additional children are being victimized that no one will ever know about.

If you suspect that a child is being victimized, call 911 or report to the Child Protective Services hotline (800) 252-5400. Visit the Advocacy Center for the Children of El Paso's website: advocacycenterep.org on tips on child abuse prevention and awareness.

It's the law. Do your part and protect El Paso's children.

Susan H. Oliva is executive director, Advocacy Center for the Children of El Paso.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Tooting 2 Horns - And A Challenge To Others!

There are only 2 Blogs that have made a darn of a difference to your tiny world and world view. All the rest are just a bunch of rehashed nonsense from other media outlets, reworded, pollyanish, and truly pathetic. Nobody cares about any one's personal opinion. The way you make a difference, is by making a difference.... no other way to say it.

For starters, investigate the finances of the Lakewood Yeshiva --- find out what percentage of the incoming charitable dollars, are really charity, or are just adding to the Kotler coffers?

It has been a while since I have had the time to write and investigate the scumbags passing themselves off as religious folks...You can make a difference, or do you choose to continue to play it safe, by being more concerned with your "reputation"...which by the way counts for nothing among true truth-seekers.

I will continue to keep posting articles from others that reflect my personal points of view, I have done the time, on my dime, dealing with the slime. I need a break...for the interim. I'd love to see others pick up the void that I left. The true test - will anything you wrote mean anything to anyone a day after you died?

For additional topics that fascinate me go to my Facebook page - be fascinated and open your eyes: https://www.facebook.com/unorthodox.jew

Check in every day...I'm going nowhere!


Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Prosecutor describes abuse at Lakewood yeshiva teacher Yosef Kolko's sex-assault trial

TOMS RIVER — Yosef Kolko was a popular camp counselor who helped an unpopular young boy fit in during the summer after the fifth grade, in 2007, a jury of nine men and seven women heard this morning.

Kolko recruited the boy, who was teased by his peers, to sing in the camp choir and take roles in camp plays, Assistant Ocean County Prosecutor Laura Pierro told the panel.

The activity was great for the shy boy who was wildly into music but usually kept to himself and was shunned by kids his own age, she said.

“That elation would soon be replaced by a profound sense of discomfort,” Pierro said.

The following summer, when the boy returned to Yachad, the summer camp run by Yeshiva Bais Hatorah School on Swarthmore Avenue in Lakewood, Kolko started to sexually abuse the boy, Pierro told the jury.

Kolko, a counselor at the camp who also taught at Yeshiva Orchos Chaim in Lakewood, would rub up against the boy, then 11, engage in acts of oral sex with him and attempt to perform other sexual acts on the child, Pierro said.

The abuse was repeated and occurred at the camp, in a car, in woods near a park and even in a bathroom at a synagogue, Pierro said.

“Sadly,” Pierro said, “that 30-something -year-old man was his best friend.”

The boy, whose name is being withheld to protect his identity, revealed the sexual abuse to a therapist in February of 2009. When the boy’s family was told, the child’s father, a prominent rabbi in Lakewood’s Orthodox community, confronted Kolko, demanding he seek help and quit working with children, Pierro said. The father recorded the conversation, she said. Kolko never denied the accusations and went with him to see another rabbi, she said.

The father sought to have a rabbinical council handle the accusations, but when Kolko eventually refused to cooperate in the process, the victim and his family in July of 2009 went to the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, shunning their religious traditions that such matters be handled by rabbis and not secular authorities.

Because “”one Jew is not to inform on another,” Pierro said, the father has since resigned his prestigious teaching position, and the family has moved from Lakewood.

Kolko’s attorney, Michael F. Bachner, said the child is lying, possibly because of pressure from others in the Orthodox community or maybe because Kolko tried to keep his distance from the boy.

In the end, Bachner said, “there was a decision made that Yosef Kolko was getting thrown under the bus.”

The comments were made during opening arguments of Kolko’s trial before Superior Court Judge Francis R. Hodgson.

Kolko, now 39, of Geffen Drive, is charged with aggravated sexual assault, attempted aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault and child endangerment.

Bachner said Kolko’s silence in denying the accusations brought by the victim’s father had nothing to do with guilt, but with respect for a respected rabbi in his community.

“The respect for a rabbinical authority is enormous,” Bachner said. “Kolko’s only remark to (the boy’s father) was, Are you trying to destroy me?’ ”

Bachner said the boy’s father gave Kolko an ultimatum: Quit his job and go to therapy or the father would got to the secular authorities.

Kolko told him, “I can’t do that. I didn’t do anything wrong. Do what you have to do,” Bachner said. “And he continued to work.”

The boy at the center of the case is expected to testify when the trial resumes after the lunch break.

Kolko is free on $125,000 bail. If he is convicted of the charges, he could face up to 60 years in prison.

READ MORE: www.sfjny.org


"I have clients in their 80s who have been carrying abuse around for 75 years."

Boston clergy abuse lawyer calls for raising age limit on lawsuits against child molesters

BOSTON — An attorney who helped lead an $85 million child sexual abuse settlement against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston before revealing that he had been a victim of child molestation urged state lawmakers to raise the statute of limitations on sex-abuse lawsuits.

The measure, heard Tuesday by the Legislature's Judiciary Committee, would give victims until age 55 to file civil claims against their alleged attackers. Under current Massachusetts law, most victims have only until age 21 to bring civil lawsuits, according to backers of the legislation.

"It's not going to be complete justice, there will never be complete justice," attorney Eric MacLeish said before meeting with lawmakers.

"But this bill will be so helpful for so many people and I would like to think that it could have been helpful to me," he said, adding that he would argue for the bill from both the standpoint of a lawyer and abuse victim.

MacLeish brought a picture showing himself at age 9 with classmates at a boarding school in England, where he said he was sexually abused by a teacher.

MacLeish was among the lawyers in the landmark 2003 clergy abuse case that led to compensation for hundreds of people who said they were abused by priests as children. Yet during that time, he did not reveal his own grim experiences.

"Even though I knew I was a tough advocate for people who had been sexually abused ... the most terrifying thing for me, that I never spoke about, was going back and confronting the people who had molested me," he said.

After the settlement with the church, MacLeish suffered post-traumatic stress brought on by years of dealing with the stories of others who had been sexually abused, he said. He was haunted in particular by the case of one client who had been raped as a 9-year-old boy.

MacLeish gave up his law practice, got divorced and suffered flashbacks, nausea and insomnia.

An exception to current Massachusetts law allows people over the age of 21 to sue their alleged abusers if  a claim is filed within three years of the time they first realize that they had been harmed by past abuse.

MacLeish said in his case, he had never repressed the memories of abuse, even recalling details as vivid as the pattern of the wallpaper in the room where he had been molested.

"I never forgot it, but I was never able to deal with it," he said. "I was afraid to go there. I thought that if I did I would become unraveled. My elixir, my medication, was representing abuse victims and trying to save people."

Mitchell Garabedian, another Boston attorney who advocates for abuse victims, said raising to 55 the age up until which a person can file claims would recognize the difficulty many people have confronting the trauma until well into adulthood.

"Even if a person realizes they were abused and it caused them problems, they still might not have the coping mechanism to call someone up and say, 'I'll have to do something about this.'" Garabedian said. "I have clients in their 80s who have been carrying abuse around for 75 years."

Those skeptical of raising the statute of limitations say the long passages of time, scarcity of witnesses and sometimes vague recollections of events can make it difficult for the accused to get a fair hearing.

Marci Hamilton, a law professor at Yeshiva University who specializes in child sex-abuse statutes of limitations and supports the Massachusetts bill, said several other states, including California, New York and Pennsylvania, are considering similar legislation.


Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Yosef Kolko, a counselor at a summer camp at a yeshiva in Lakewood charged with sexually assaulting a boy who was 11 and 12 years old at the time of the incidents

Secrecy on trial in Kolko case

There should be a medal for the Lakewood family that is seeking justice for their son in the courts, despite being ostracized by some in the Orthodox Jewish community to which they belong. Their courage should inspire others to break the thick wall of silence within that community.

The trial of Yosef Kolko, a counselor at a summer camp at a yeshiva in Lakewood charged with sexually assaulting a boy who was 11 and 12 years old at the time of the incidents, could begin as early as this week.

When the boy said he had been molested, between September 2007 and February 2009, his family sought justice from a local rabbinical court. The council did nothing. So the family went to the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office for help. Kolko was charged with aggravated sexual assault, attempted aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault and child endangerment.

Some in the Lakewood Orthodox community believe that going to secular authorities is treasonous, if not blasphemous. Those beliefs have intimidated the families of abuse victims in Lakewood for too long. Concern inside and outside the Orthodox community over the lack of sex crime reporting in Orthodox neighborhoods has been bubbling for years.

In the aftermath of going to the authorities, the boy and his family were ostracized by their community. Some even embarked on a campaign to get the boy and his father to drop the criminal charges. And a flier was circulated in Lakewood saying the boy’s father made a “mockery” of the Torah and committed a “terrible deed” by going to the secular authorities. The family withstood the barrage and forged ahead.

The attempt on the part of some in the Orthodox community to keep the sordid details in-house are a betrayal of both the faith they profess and of the principals of the nation in which they have the freedom to practice that faith.

The God of the Hebrew scriptures time and again champions justice, even beyond holy ritual. As the prophet Amos thundered in the book that bears his name: “... let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream.” That same Hebrew scripture, in Ecclesiastes, says that nothing is secret: “For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.”

The First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees the Lakewood Orthodox the right to worship and pursue their faith — up to the point where that pursuit harms or infringes on the rights of others.

We hope that the bravery of this family can break down the walls of fear and reprisals from a community that should support the victims of child sexual abuse above all else. If other families stand up for their children, so much the better for the people of Lakewood, Orthodox Judaism and justice itself.

 READ MORE: www.sfjny.org.


Monday, May 06, 2013

Only For Children - Warning For Adults!

This Ad Has a Secret Anti-Abuse Message That Only Kids Can See

In an effort to provide abused children with a safe way to reach out for help, a Spanish organization called the Aid to Children and Adolescents at Risk Foundation, or ANAR for short, created an ad that displays a different message for adults and children at the same time.

The secret behind the ad's wizardry is a lenticular top layer, which shows different images at varying angles. So when an adult—or anyone taller than four feet, five inches—looks at it they only see the image of a sad child and the message: "sometimes, child abuse is only visible to the child suffering it." But when a child looks at the ad, they see bruises on the boy's face and a different message: "if somebody hurts you, phone us and we’ll help you" alongside the foundation's phone number.

The ad is designed to empower kids, particularly if their abuser happens to be standing right next to them. And while this is a great and worthwhile use of lenticular images, how long will it be before toy companies start doing to the same thing to hawk their products directly at kids? [YouTube via PetaPixel via DIY Photography]


My Journey To Hell - NEW BLOG!

What Makes Me a Survivor?

I was hurt
And vulnerable
Hurt and unprotected
And mocked
Put down And trampled upon
Pushed through the dirt
And covered in mud
Buried headfirst in deep dreck
But I pushed and pulled
Wrestled and struggled
Till I could get my feet straight on the ground
And slowly
Slowly but surely
I fought the fight
I screamed
I shouted
I cried
And let it all out
I uncovered my wounds
Showed the world
My journey to hell
I warned them
And begged them
Let me be the last to suffer
They didn't listen
They don't want to hear
They say ignorance is bliss
So I will keep screaming
Till they hear my voice
Till they recognize our pain
And say no more
I will fight
To save myself
And to save all the children
Because everyone deserves a life
Everyone but those who took ours
Everyone has a voice to be heard
Everyone but those who silenced ours
We will start taking them down
By rising above
And protecting
I am a warrior, a survivor
And will no longer be victimized.

READ MORE: http://www.manytearsago.blogspot.com/

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Preying on children has become an epidemic that needs direct legal remedy

Our View: Removing an unjustifiable restriction

The damaging effects of some crimes linger for decades. Some damage lives permanently.

Among the inexplicable quirks of the law is the presumption that ruining a life with childhood sexual abuse is a crime with an expiration date on it.

 Statutes of limitations are designed to trade justice for the orderly and convenient operation of the legal system. The evidence of the last two decades regarding child sex abuse proves how unsatisfactory that view is.

The damage of this heinous crime normally lingers forever. But the crime is treated as if it’s an embezzlement that the perpetrator managed to beat by hiding from evidence and counting on the victim’s silence for protection.

But legislation pending in the General Assembly would end that pretense. Senate Bill 1399, which has passed the Senate and is before the House, removes deadlines for victims of childhood sexual abuse to seek civil redress in court.

The current 20-year limit is artificial and barely gets most victims to a point in life when they can overcome, or at least cope effectively, with the traumatic experience, which can be repressed in their memory.

Legal scholars hail ending statutes of limitation as a dynamic tool to fight sexual predators, who are often family members who spend years tormenting victims and keeping the crime hidden in shadows. Historically, 90 percent of child sexual abuse victims never report the crime, and a large percentage of lawsuits perish under time restraints before they can reach court.

Preying on children has become an epidemic that needs direct legal remedy. Eight states have passed laws similar to SB 1399 and more are in the pipeline.

Luckily, most state legislatures are choosing to act in the best interest of the children. Marci Hamilton, chairman in public policy at Yeshiva University’s law school in New York City, is the predominant authority on the topic and describes SB 1399 as a “sunshine law for children.”

We agree. The bill makes sense and provides justice.


Friday, May 03, 2013

Parents of man who committed suicide over alleged abuse sue St. Louis Archdiocese

Behind a rising suicide rate, a struggle for answers

The parents of a man from Florissant who committed suicide in 2009 sued the St. Louis Archdiocese Thursday claiming their son’s death was the result of sexual and emotional abuse by a Roman Catholic priest at Kenrick Glennon Seminary in Shrewsbury.

The lawsuit filed in St. Louis County Circuit Court says Bryan Kuchar, who was suspended by the archdiocese in 2002 and defrocked by the Vatican in 2006, molested the plaintiffs’ son at the seminary’s overnight camp between 1999 and 2002. The boy — known in court documents as John Doe SON — was between 12 and 14 at the time.

In 2003 Kuchar was found guilty of molesting a 14-year-old boy eight years earlier, when the priest was serving at Assumption Catholic Church in south St. Louis County. He was sentenced to three consecutive one-year terms in the St. Louis County Jail.

A spokeswoman for the archdiocese, Angela Shelton, said officials there had “not been served a copy of this lawsuit involving Kuchar, and we do not comment on pending litigation.”

David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, said there had been perhaps “a couple dozen” lawsuits across the country over the last decade in which the plaintiffs blamed a loved one’s suicide on clergy sexual abuse.

“It’s not unheard of, but it’s far from common,” he said.

In the most infamous case, five victims of the Rev. Robert Larson in the 1970s and 1980s killed themselves as adults. Larson now lives at the St. John Vianney Renewal Center in Dittmer, Mo.

At least two other lawsuits over clergy sexual abuse where suicide was a factor have been settled by the St. Louis Archdiocese.

Kenneth Chackes, the attorney for the couple who filed the newest suit, said John Doe SON had made “several” suicide attempts between the ages of 14 and 21, when he died. He said John Doe SON spoke to at least one of his therapists and to other medical staff about the sexual abuse while he was hospitalized after suicide attempts.

Chackes said the parents took four years to file a lawsuit because they needed “a long time to deal with the suicide and how it happened.”

In a statement, the parents said they had approached the St. Louis Archdiocesan Review Board — which responds to accusations of clergy sexual abuse — but were dismissed.

“The fault lies with the church officials who failed to keep our son and other victims of predatory priests safe,” according to the statement.


Thursday, May 02, 2013

A Conversation With: Psychiatrist Dinesh Bhugra, Expert on Deviant Sexual Behavior

Reports of rapes of very young girls continue to surface in India, appalling citizens and sparking protests. On Monday, a 4-year old girl died from injuries sustained after she was raped by a grown man and left near a crematorium in central India.

Ten percent of all rape cases in India in 2011 involved children below the age of 12, but “pedophilia,” defined by the American Psychological Association as a recurrent sexual interest in prepubescent children, is not even part of the discourse in India, social scientists and medical practitioners say.

Sexual molestation of children overall is vastly under-reported in India, they say, since much of child sexual abuse happens within the context of families. Little attention is given to studying the perpetrators of such crimes, often believed to be pedophiles, or men who experience persistent thoughts, fantasies, urges and sexual arousal involving children.

India Ink spoke to Dinesh Bhugra, a psychiatrist and professor of mental health and cultural diversity at the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, to understand what research about such behavior in other countries has revealed, and his own experiences of working with people with pedophiliac tendencies.

Dr. Bhugra has authored a paper on sexual attitudes and practices in North India and has studied sexual behavior across several cultures. His clinic in London also handles patients referred by the courts who are charged with crimes involving pedophiliac acts.

Q.How can we explain sexual attraction to children in India?

A.Work done by an American sociologist, Vern Bullough, divides cultures into ‘sex positive’ and ‘sex negative’ cultures. Sex positive cultures are those where sex is seen as a positive activity where people enjoy sex, and procreation is seen as a byproduct rather than the main function. In sex negative societies it is the other way around: sex is purely for procreation and not for pleasure. What he said was that Indian culture was sex positive for centuries, but post-Mughal and post-British rule it became much more sex negative.

This indicates that sex is not about pleasure but about control and power. Particularly for men who come from poorer backgrounds, it could be the only way to demonstrate their power, by taking control of young girls, of women and of children.

But it is also true that there are people who are almost sort of biologically attracted to younger children. Nobody has come out and said that a brain lesion is what causes it, but there is some suggestion that there are neural networks in the brain which do not function properly in such cases.

Q.You have spoken about social control and power, what role does sexual pleasure have to play in such acts?

A.It is part of it, because there are people who do not force but still have sex with children — there is a whole child-sex industry in the Far East and in Thailand and also in Sri Lanka. Lots of people from the West go there.

Then again people have specific urges – there are templates of what turns people on – blond boy or dark-haired girl or dark skin or light skin. So there is that element, but in terms of rape it is more about control or power, so sexual pleasure becomes secondary under those circumstances.

Most people will have sexual fluidity, in that they can be interested in more than one outlet. But there will be others who will be exclusively attracted to children.

Q.What are the implications of suggesting that it is a medical condition?

A.Some people do argue that it is a biological impulse but it is a very sensitive issue – if you say it is biological then you can say that it is not in my control, I was born this way. That sort of puts it into an entirely different complexion. And in some ways society wants people to be responsible; they do not want any biological explanation.

Q.So if there was a biological explanation for it, the condition would be treated as an illness?

A.Yes it would. The patients that I see are quite often referred by the court and do not come to me voluntarily. I think in all the time I have been seeing such patients I remember only a few instances of people coming of their own will, one of whom said that he did not like the idea and wanted treatment. Another had these fantasies but had not acted on them, and did not want to, but just wanted somebody to talk to.

But mostly they come through the courts and police because they have got into some sort of legal trouble.

Q.What does treatment consist of?

A.There is a kind of hormonal treatment that is used to reduce their sex drive and then you work with them on the behavioral changes. But in the U.K. the law is that you need two psychiatrists to agree to give them hormonal treatment to suppress their sex drive. You need a second opinion about it, only then you can start them on biological treatment.

I cannot comment on individual cases, but in the case of a crime being committed we do usually look at circumstances like whether they were under the influence of alcohol or involved in substance abuse or there was peer pressure and what the specifics were that were spurring them on.

Q.Is the level of brutality seen in the recent rape of a 5-year-old in Delhi common?

A.Again there are two ways to look at it. There was a survey in America a few years ago which showed that somewhere between 2 to 4 percent men and women like sadomasochistic sex, so they get turned on by pain and inflicting pain. In that context we are talking about two consenting adults.

But in the case of the 5-year-old or where rape happens, violence can be sexual but it is more about power and control. Obviously there are issues related to personality traits of individuals, whether they are a psychopathic personality or anti-social or they are trying to dominate another person.

Q.What personality traits are associated with this behavior?

A.It is largely about psychopathic personality disorder, where basically there is no sense of shame or guilt and a need for instant gratification, to control people. Those kind of personality traits are seen quite early in childhood.

Data from the U.K. and U.S. certainly suggests that people who have conduct disorders during childhood, which can be seen in acts like plucking the wings of butterflies or burning insects with a magnifying glass or torturing them, develop personality disorders as they grow up.

Research shows that they are deficient in social skills, usually shy, unassertive, and passive and socially withdrawn. Many of them have troubled childhoods and may have been abused sexually as children themselves.

Q.Is this true of India as well?

A.It is hard to say. Data from India is not easily available because there are no official statistics or adequate research about the perpetrators, and people are not open to sharing information about what would be deemed as illegal acts. The U.K. has a database of sexual offenders and a sexual offender register.

India does not have that, or a large number of clinical psychiatrists working in this field. That is still in nascency in India.

My guess is the level of child sexual abuse is roughly about the same in countries like U.K., U.S. and India. But I find it ironic that in a way children are revered in India, and yet such incidents and violence against children also happen.


Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Author Michael D'Antonio discusses "Mortal Sins,” his book about clergy and sex abuse

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Michael D’Antonio has written books on topics ranging from mosquitoes to golf to atomic bombs. His latest book, “Mortal Sins: Sex, Crime, and the Era of Catholic Scandal,” examines the issue of sexual abuse and cover-ups in the Catholic Church. He took a break from his recent book tour to discuss the book’s Minnesota connection, why writing is like fishing and the tattoo he’d get if he walked into a parlor today.

Q: “Mortal Sins” dives headlong into a topic that’s offensive to some, painful to others and controversial to most. Why did you pick the topic of clergy abuse?

A: There always seems to be a time in our social affairs when it’s finally OK to tell the truth; a time when even those who have inflicted grievous harm are ready to talk. The time was right. A book like “Mortal Sins” allows us to look at even the worst things and come out with hope for the future. Plus, I like to challenge myself and challenge the reader, and I think “Mortal Sins” does that.

Q: The clergy sex abuse scandal is a worldwide phenomenon, yet Minnesota seems to be at the epicenter of it all. Why?

A: Minnesotans are extremely nice and willing to trust — but upon betrayal will not be stopped. There’s a collective interest in making things better here. There’s a wonderful liberal and progressive streak; I think it’s something in the soil. So it’s not surprising that Jeff Anderson, the main protagonist in this book, is Minnesotan. He’s a central figure in this historical drama. There’s no cutting him out. In this field of law there’s plenty of competition and jealousies among lawyers, yet not a single one contests Jeff is a pioneer.

Q: The book doesn’t shy away from discussing Anderson’s personal demons and addictions. Why does that play a central role in the book?

A: It’s relevant because Jeff uses all of himself in his practice. When he’s deposing someone who’s committed a crime against children, and that person is denying, defending and deflecting, Jeff knows where that person is coming from because he too has denied, defended and deflected. On the other hand, his recovery, which is also portrayed in the book, allows him — and others — to realize these men didn’t have to do what they did. There are things they could have done. There were ways out.

Q: Anderson has discussed “rigorous honesty” — his unflinching penchant for telling the truth in his own life, since he expects the same from those he works for and against. That honesty is embedded, often shockingly, in the book. What’s it like to work with someone like that?

A: I spent countless hours with Jeff and his wife, Julie — who I also interviewed extensively for the book — and can say I’ve never met two people so willing to bare their souls and past. For people to talk about the darkest moments of their relationship, of their need for love and recovery — well, that usually happens only after someone has been trapped and has to come clean. They were forthright to the point I wanted to protect them.

Q: How did writing this book and hearing survivors’ stories affect you personally?

A: I had nightmares about this, literally. My wife is a therapist and I jokingly tell people I’m in residential treatment. But I interviewed many survivors of abuse and discovered when we tell stories and talk to each other and listen there’s a healing process that takes place — and it works in both directions.

Q: Finally, if you and I were to walk over to the tattoo parlor right now, what would you have inked on your forearm?

A: There are so many things in life to learn and do, and so many great causes to work toward, I think it would say “Don’t Hesitate.”