WI: 3 arrested in Oconomowoc slaying; plot to gain child's custody alleged

Note: Cross posted from [wp angelfury] Whos Killing Families?.




3 arrested in Oconomowoc slaying; plot to gain child's custody alleged

By Mike Johnson of the Journal Sentinel

Updated: Nov. 19, 2009 1:31 p.m.

Waukesha — Kimberly Smith was murdered in her Oconomowoc home Oct. 1 as part of a plot for her ex-boyfriend to get custody of their 4-year-old son, authorities said Thursday in announcing the arrests of the ex-boyfriend and two other men on homicide charges.

Darren Wold, 41, the ex-boyfriend, is accused of conspiring with a longtime friend, Jack E. Johnson, 65, formerly of Waukesha, to kill Smith, and Justin Patrick Welch, 26, of French Camp, Calif., is accused of traveling to Wisconsin and stabbing her to death, Chief David Beguhn said during a news conference at the Waukesha County Sheriff's Department.

Authorities on Oct. 27 had identified Welch as a suspect in the homicide after his DNA was found on a knife and latex/vinyl-type gloves recovered in a sewer drain near Smith's home in the 300 block of S. Maple St., according to court records.

An arrest warrant was issued for Welch that charged him with first-degree intentional homicide. At the time, police said Welch might be driving a Jeep Patriot that was reported stolen in California.

Investigators launched a nationwide manhunt for Welch, and through their investigation, connected him to Johnson, of Obrero Rosarito, Mexico, Beguhn said.

Authorities placed an alert with U.S. Customs and Border Protection asking that they be notified if Johnson attempted to cross the border.

Johnson was taken into custody about 1:10 p.m. Wednesday as he attempted to enter the United States.

About 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Welch was arrested by Mexican authorities after a brief vehicle pursuit near Rosarito, Mexico. Police were attempting to stop the Patriot because it was stolen, Beguhn said. Welch was turned over to U.S. authorities.

Both Welch and Johnson are being held in the San Diego (Calif.) County Jail.

Johnson is charged with party to first-degree intentional homicide.

Wold was arrested Wednesday night at his Lubbock, Texas, home. He is being held in jail there on a charge of party to first-degree intentional homicide.

All three men are being held on $2 million bail.

Smith, 39, was found dead about 9:30 a.m. Oct. 1 in her home in the 300 block of S. Maple St. Her hands were bound and she had been stabbed a number of times, court records state.

Her 4-year-old son, Jackson, was home at the time of the slaying but did not witness the killing.

Smith's current boyfriend, who lived with her and Jackson, found Smith's body in the living room and called 911. The boyfriend said he had left for work about 6 a.m. and returned after learning that Smith didn't show up at her job, according to Beguhn.

Welch's ties to Wisconsin are not known, and investigators do not know if Smith knew him. Smith's relatives told investigators that they do not know Welch.

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"Disconnection in the Courtroom" SUSAN MURPHY MILANO'S JOURNAL

Note: Cross posted from [wp angelfury] Family 'Lawless' Court Whores.


"Disconnection in the Courtroom"

Continuing this week on Courtside television is the live trial of Juan Mendez whom on July 24, 2006 was charged with second degree murder in the deaths of his wife Whitney Mendez, 19 and mother-in-law Lorena Stone.
Whitney Mendez obtained a court order of protection and the prosecutor played a video tape (before she was murdered) from one of the hearings where Juan Mendez in typical abuser form made accusations against his wife before a judge in an attempt to shift the violence in the home to a story which amounted to nothing more than a pathetic excuse about his actions the day he came into the home and why he got upset with his wife.

What disturbed me about the trial is when I learned friends of Whitney did not come forward for almost a year saying "they were afraid Juan was going to hurt them" or their families. The trial appears to be weighing heavily on "hearsay evidence." Mostly from friends and co-workers whom are on the stand testifying to what Whitney disclosed about the abuse while she was alive. Allegedly, she told those close to her that she was in fear for her life and was not able to leave her abusive husband.

The couple have a young son whom was not harmed and in my opinion spared (because he was a boy) during the gruesome murders. If this was a random act of violence it is likely the child would have also been killed. As I watched Juan Mendez all decked out in a crisp white shirt, suit, and tie his body language told the story of many abusers in a court of law sitting pretty and smug hoping to get away with murder.

What I did not understand is why those close to Whitney Mendezremained silent for so long? Why they did not come forward immediately after learning the news that their friend and her mother were found murdered? Why didn't they go to authorities?

The power that an abuser has over a friend or family member often transfers onto others as in this case and the cycle of intimidation and, of second hand abuse repeats to others. As a receiver of information or a witness to a crime when a person does nothing, they empower the abuser whom ultimately wins.

I was not able to watch the entire trial today, because I didn't have time and frankly, what I viewed was enough to determine this case is clearly in the hands of the jurors. With the stage of the courtroom already set by a well dressed man accused of murder, holding his head high as though he wouldn't stomp a bug with the sole of his shoe and a beaming air of confidence along with a skilled defense team representing him. Unfortunately, the case does not appear to be going all that well for the a prosecutor.

When a prosecutor is unable to connect the facts of a case on behalf of crime victims a disconnect is likely to happen with the jurors. I hope for the lives of these women forever silenced, I amwrong.



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"Orange County Florida Community Remains in Danger" SUSAN MURPHY MILANO'S JOURNAL

Note: Cross posted from [wp angelfury] Mothers Global Justice Alliance.


"Orange County Florida Community Remains in Danger"


Thus far the person responsible for the murder of 7 year-old Somer Thompson has yet to be apprehended by authorities. Since I first learned from sources how this child died it is of great concern to me, that this indivdual still, responsible for murdering Somer, remains at large.

In checking the area where the family lives, I am disturbed by the fact there are 19 offenders whom live in a one mile radius of the home. A predator living just 0.4 miles from the home and school according to the Florida Offender neighborhood registry listing a few of the offender addresses literally backs up to the court yard of the school. One predator can actually climb over their fence and into the school yard. Isn't that in violation of probation? Isn't an offender required by law not to live a minimum 1000 feet from any school? Where are the parole agents? Who is monitoring thesedangerous pedators?

During a vigil for Somer Thompson just hours before her body was discovered in a garbage dump sources whom attended the virgil aledge there was a man covered up in a windbreaker (the weather was in the mid 80's), baseball cap and possible marks or scratches to the face just standing around at the gathering. So while police were trying to locate the young girl no one thought about the fact that this man could have actually shown up and possibly was right there before their eyes. Perhaps a news camera crew or an individual with a video of the that night could look and see if they captured those in attendance that evening.

The siting of the man was reported but apparently according to sources it was not followed up for a few days. Then within 48 hours of Somer's murder a neighbor was followed suspiciously by someone in a truck. She dialed 911, but was blown off for being paranoid. A week later detectives made a report of the incident.

According to Jaemi Levine, Founder and President of Mother's Against Predators Orange County has become a ghost town. The parks, playground's and neighborhood's are empty. It is as though everyone all vanished. People are remaining in their homes. The community absolutely terrified."

This man responsible is still out there. Mothers Against Predators is curious as to why the Orange County Police Department have not released the photo's of "Absconded" offenders whom are no longer living at their registered address to America's Most Wantedand other news outlets.

The community and the family of Somer Thompson have been spared the gruesome details of how this precious gift of life was murdered. Maybe they need to be told? Maybe the community needs to demand answers? And maybe by informing the community and the media a predator can be removed from society so that another child does not have to die!



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Sheriff's "Regret" is a Disturbing Trend SUSAN MURPHY MILANO'S JOURNAL

Note: Cross posted from [wp angelfury] A Human Rights Issue-Custodial Justice.


Sheriff's "Regret" is a Disturbing Trend

Today the murder trial in Florida continued for Juan Mendez who is accused of killing his estranged wife Whitney Mendez and mother in-law Lorena Stone in 2006.

Just when I thought the trial could go either way, that perhaps the prosecutor had a chance to win the case, it all changed when sheriff's Sgt. Walter Ryan was on the stand. During his testimony he told the jurors he "regretted not doing more work as the lead detective investigating the homicides of Whitney Mendez and her mother, Lorena Stone."

Assistant State Attorney Cynthia Ross asked Sheriff Ryan if he investigated the case as fully as he should have. "Looking back now," Ryan said, "regrettably, no." Ryan testified he didn't collect house phone records because he was told by the phone company that only billable calls - collect or long distance - are stored. But Ryan also said he didn't collect call records of cell phones found in the house. "I never got the cell phone records," Ryan testified. "I wish I had."

It is painfully obvious that many are to blame for a sloppy homicide investigation. From recovery of cell phone records, witness interviews, court document files, text message records to domestic violence calls to the home. The police are rarely, if at all properly trained in domestic violence homicide investigations and that was made very clear today, during the trial. Also, the prosecutor basically allowed the case to go cold for nearly a year before an investigation could be re-ignited.

For a successful prosecution in any domestic violence homicide case, expertise and knowledge are crucial for those standing in theaftermath of a bloody battlefield.

Perhaps when the trial concludes the prosecutor will invite me down for an intense day of training so that in the future their jobs will be easier and justice can actually be served!

I am not in any way trying to be sarcastic or disrespectful to anyone fighting for justice. With 20 years of experience in all types of homicide as it relates to family violence and stalking why not turn to someone that can make or break a case. Granted, I would not know where to begin when it comes to sex crime cases involving children, but, I do have the ability to teach others succesfully, by enhancing their skills in this area.

If you are interested, the trial is being broadcast live on court tvand also via twitter here's the link: http://twitter.com/newspresscourts

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A Child's Custody

Note: Cross posted from [wp ridezstormz] Silent No More!.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Child's Custody


When divorce is involved, in the vast majority of child custody cases in the Middle East, custody of the children is almost always granted to the father. But what about when divorce is not the issue, but instead the father dies? One would think that the mother of the children would get custody of her own kids, right? Not necessarily so, especially in the Middle East.

One case that has made international headlines recently is the case of Adam, whose mother is British and whose Qatari father passed away in 2005. In early October of this year, Rebecca Jones, Adam's mother, was talked into visiting her deceased husband's family in Qatar with her ten-year-old son Adam. The boy was a virtual stranger to the family, having lived in Bahrain most of his life. But what was supposed to be a family visit has turned into a family's desperate fight over the custody of Adam. The Qatari family promptly kidnapped the child and Adam's 77-year-old grandmother has now been awarded custody by a Qatari court.

This family did not rip him away from his mother out of love or concern for him at all. Some reports have indicated that his Qatari family's motivations are based on the child's inheritance. Apparently Adam will come into a large amount of money when he turns 18. Adam doesn't even speak Arabic and his grandmother doesn't speak English.

The boy, like many children of Western women and Middle Eastern men, holds dual citizenship - both British and Qatari. Rebecca's deceased husband's brother, Fahad Al-Madhaiki, whom she trusted, tricked Rebecca into signing a document written in Arabic, that in effect allowed the family to challenge her parental rights to Adam. Rebecca, who has remarried and lives in Bahrain, has been denied visitation by her dead husband's family. To make matters worse, Adam suffers from a condition called dyspraxia, which affects developmental motor skills such as balance and coordination.

Social workers who met with Adam to ensure that he was in good shape told Rebecca that Adam is unaware of the custody battle and was told by his abductors that he is being kept out of his home in Bahrain because of the swine flu.

Human rights groups have condemned the Qatari court's ruling, and Rebecca has received lots of support from around the world, especially from her son's British school in Bahrain.

If you are on Facebook, you can sign up to the group "Return Adam to his Family in Bahrain." Rebecca recently posted the following on her Facebook group on November 18:

"Dear Friends, The minors affairs authority asked us to come to their office for a meeting today. They called Fahad the uncle who took my son and asked him to come in to talk about the fact that I had not seen my son for nearly 7 weeks and this was a violation of my rights as a mother. To see this person sitting acros...s the table for me was very difficult after what he has done but I tried to stay calm because they warned me if I became angry they would not be able to mediate and negotiate a visit to my son. Anyway to cut a long story short after two hours of negotiations he agreed for me to see my son for a few hours at 5pm. I was overwhelmed with joy at the prospect of seeing him, however it was short lived. Ten minutes after I left to prepare for my visit with Adam the minors affairs called me to say that Fahad had called and changed his mind and the visit was off. Truely heartbreaking. Rebecca."

How can this Qatari family, in all good faith, steal this child from his mother, deny her visitation, and think that what they are doing is in the best interest of this child?

For more information about the plight of Adam and Rebecca:

British Woman Claims Son Kidnapped by Grandparents in Qatar

Social Workers Win Access to Adam

ITN Video Interview with Adam's mom Rebecca Jones

Posted by Susie of Arabia at 2:10 PM

Labels: children, crime, culture, divorce, family, marriage, mother in law, women's issues

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Note: Cross posted from [wp ridezstormz] Silent No More!.


North Augusta officer charged in domestic violence incident

Note: Cross posted from [wp angelfury] Battered Mothers Rights - A Human Rights Issue.





Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2009 3:04 p.m.



The Aiken County Sheriff’s Office arrested North Augusta Public Safety Officer Brandon Cameron today on charges of criminal domestic violence.


Officer Brandon Cameron

Officer Cameron, 27, who has been with the public safety department for three years, has been suspended while the sheriff’s office investigates the matter, according to a press release.

From the Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2009 online edition of The Augusta Chronicle

Reader Comments

Note: Comments are not edited and don't represent the views of The Augusta Chronicle. Please read our full comments policy. To report a post that may be inappropriate, click the icon.

Say it ain't so ! Another wife beating cop? I wonder if it's the steroids they take or the insecurity they suffer from that is the root of their actions? Not all, but way too many !!!!!

Posted by reader54 on Wed Nov 18, 2009 3:12 PM

They are big and bad to hit a woman huh? Let's see him bully some of those guys in the big house. He won't be so bad without his badge on. He has to go, no respect at all for this thug.

Posted by APiratesLife4Me on Wed Nov 18, 2009 3:20 PM

Let's see what the investigation reveals first before we put him in an orange jumpsuit.

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Broken homes: The Economy and domestic violence

Note: Cross posted from [wp angelfury] A Human Rights Issue-Custodial Justice.


Just last week two local families in Washington County were torn apart by murder and suicide



The Times, Nov 19, 2009, Updated 3 minutes ago

(news photo)



There are so many questions, but very few answers.

In just two days last week, two families in Washington County were ripped apart by the ultimate form of domestic violence.

In Tualatin, 39-year-old Robert James Beiser shot and killed his estranged wife, 36-year-old Teresa Marie Beiser and injured two others with an armory of weapons. Then he turned his gun on himself.

In the Bethany area, 44-year-old Mukesh Suthar shot and killed his 39-year-old wife, Varsha Suthar, and their 9-year-old son, Ronak. He also took his own life.

Why did this happen? Were there warning signs? Could something have been done to stop this?

Cases increasing?

According to a 2006 report by The Violence Policy Center, a nonprofit think-tank that researches violence in America, between 1,000 and 1,500 deaths a year are a direct result of murder-suicide cases in the United States. Of these crimes, the vast majority – 74 percent – are committed by male suspects against their wives, most using some sort of firearm. From 2003 to 2007, Oregon averaged eight cases of murder-suicide a year, according to statistics from the state health department.

Katherine van Wormer is the co-author of the 2009 book “Death by Domestic Violence: Preventing the Murders and Murder-Suicides” and a professor of social work at the University of Northern Iowa who researches crimes of domestic violence. She said that she’s seen an increase in reports of murder-suicide cases in the United States since the economy started souring.

“The economy is definitely a factor,” van Wormer said. “Fathers in the family have a sense of failure. And these crimes occur in otherwise low-crime areas because they have nothing to do with the crime rate.”

She said the idea of a “contagion” – that people are more likely to commit similar crimes when they see other instances of it occur – is also important, and adds to the complexity of figuring out why these crimes occur.

“The men here have often provided for the family, they are suffering a grave crisis such as economically, in financial and employment difficulty,” van Wormer said. “Feeling disgraced, they think they can’t protect the family so they decide to wipe them all out. A twisted protective motive seems to operate.”

According to a report by the National Institute of Justice, a part of the U.S. Department of Justice, there are four common characteristics in murder-suicide cases:

- A prior history of domestic violence

- Access to firearms

-Threats of violence, especially those that increase in specific details

-Prior history of poor mental health or substance abuse, especially alcohol

According to the report, “Murder-Suicide in Families,” a previous history of abuse was “by far the most common risk factor” in cases of murder-suicide. The report also says that whether the economy is a factor or not in murder-suicide cases is hard to tell because of the relative rarity of these events in the United States.

Getting help

Sarah H. Keefe, community outreach coordinator for Washington County’s Domestic Violence Resource Center, located in Beaverton, said her organization has seen a dramatic rise in calls for assistance in the past week, though she’s not sure why. She suspects that the very public tragedies have led people experiencing domestic violence to seek help before it’s too late.

“Domestic violence is a cycle of power and control over another person,” Keefe said. “Usually, but not always, the violence will escalate over time. The most dangerous time for survivors is when they are leaving the relationship or when they are pregnant.”

She said that people in relationships should trust their instincts and not be afraid to seek help if they need it. The first step is to call the 24-hour crisis line at 503-469-8620 or toll-free at 866-469-8600 and set up a safety plan.

Keefe said that friends and family should also be aware, and willing, to reach out for help if they know someone dealing with domestic violence. The Domestic Violence Resource Center can help survivors in the process of leaving abusive relationships by finding transitional housing and other resources.

“The important thing we as a community can do is bring to light that domestic violence is a community issue, not a private issue – it’s something we all need to talk about, not sweep under the rug,” Keefe said.

“We are all effected by the violence, in our schools, in our workplace and in our circle of family and friends.”

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Pompper murder trial: Pompper's testimony about father's alleged abuse leads to tears

Note: Cross posted from [wp angelfury] Battered Mothers Rights - A Human Rights Issue.




By Matt Dunn
November 19, 2009, 11:15AM

BRIDGETON - Testimony from John Pompper about abuse he claims he suffered at the hands of his father brought the 48-year-old Millville man to tears on Thursday.

Pompper, charged with murder in connection with the death of his half brother James Ridgeway in 1979, took the stand Wednesday in Superior Court in Cumberland County in his own defense.

His trial began about four weeks ago. His testimony continued this morning.

Pompper was asked by defense attorney Mark Roddy about his relationship with his father, James Pompper Sr., after a lengthy cross-examination by Assistant Prosecutor Jon Reilly.

Pompper said that his father had a drinking problem.

"He would physically abuse my mother and I would step between them and he would beat the (expletive) out of my mother and brother and I," he said, breaking down in tears.

Two members of Pompper's family also left the courtroom in tears.

Prosecutors claim Pompper strangled Ridgeway to death in a dispute over a woman.

Witnesses testifying for the state claim that John Pompper Sr. may have aided Pompper in covering up Ridgeway's death.

"If you had done something wrong, would (your father) have been the first person you would have called for help?" Roddy asked.

Pompper said he would not.

John Pompper Sr. passed away about two years ago.

As Pompper's testimony came to a close this morning,

Roddy asked him one more time whether he had anything to do with Ridgeway's death.

Pompper said he did not.

Pompper said earlier this morning that he disagreed with testimony given by more than a dozen witnesses which incriminated him in connection with Ridgeway's death.

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Dad gets custody this fall, then beats 16-month-old son to death (Germantown, Pennsylvania)

Note: Cross posted from [wp angelfury] Battered Mothers Rights - A Human Rights Issue.



Dad gets custody this fall, then beats 16-month-old son to death (Germantown, Tennessee)


Whadya know. Dad CURTIS LEE MORRIS, JR. had hardly secured custody this fall when he proceeded to beat his 16-month-son to death. The little boy's 3-year-old sister appears to have been part of the custody deal too, though she was apparently unharmed physically. (Emotionally has got to be a different issue, since the boy was beaten to death in a two-bedroom condo with the little girl present in the home.)

WE NEED ANSWERS! What freaking judge and other court whores saw fit to grant this guy custody of two young children? Let's see the names.

And what previous allegations, evidence of domestic violence were ignored or downplayed? (Although the reporter tells us that Daddy has no "local criminal record," we see that police were called to Dad's place by a 27-year-old female last JUNE on reports of an assault. And THAT didn't come up in September when Dad went for custody? How did y'all miss that red flag?) And ff you missed that one, what other red flags did you miss or ignore?
We're also told that Mom was convicted of a domestic violence assault in 2004. Though subsequent events must make you wonder if this was for real--or whether it was it self-defense and/or a lot of manipulative fast talking on daddy's part. The latter looks like the more likely scenario at this point.

Dad accused of beating his son had just gotten custody in fall

Germantown police still unable to locate child's mother

By Lela Garlington

Posted November 19, 2009 at midnight

A Germantown father who is accused of beating his 16-month-old son to death was just awarded custody of the child this fall.

Curtis Lee Morris Jr., 27, remains in jail on $300,000 bond. He is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Isaiah Snipes.

The baby died Saturday afternoon. Morris called 911 and reported the child was not breathing inside his two-bedroom condo at Fountain Square Condominiums.

An autopsy showed that the toddler had sustained “violent blunt-force trauma” to the abdomen, which caused massive internal injuries.

Barry Mitchell of Shelby County Juvenile Court said Morris gained custody of the child in September from the baby’s mother, Erica B. Snipes, also 27, of Memphis. Police have not been able to locate the mother.

Mitchell said he could not go into detail about why Morris was given custody.

Germantown police Dep. Chief Rodney Bright said Wednesday that Isaiah’s 3-year-old sister, Tierney, was inside the apartment when the baby was killed. Bright is uncertain if Tierney’s last name is Snipes or Morris.

“We left her in the custody of the grandparents on Saturday night,” he said. The paternal grandparents live in Germantown. In addition, police called the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services.

Regarding the toddler’s mother, Bright said, “We’ve been trying to reach her. She’s been out of pocket for some period of time.”

Except for the 3-year-old girl, Bright said, “It doesn’t appear that anyone else was there.”

When asked if police would try to interview her, he added, “It’s possible but we would defer to some specialist.”

He confirmed that police were called to Morris’ condo for another incident June 22, but he wouldn’t say if anyone was arrested. A dispatcher’s log said a 27-year-old female called and reported “assault, cut to hand.”

And a 911 dispatch call from the residence on July 3, 2008, said a 26-year-old female called and was having labor pains.

Court records show that the mother was found guilty of domestic assault in 2004. She served seven days in jail.

Audubon Park Place Apartments also filed a civil lawsuit against her in 2008 in which a lien was placed against her.

Except for minor traffic offenses, the father has no local criminal record. If Morris is found guilty, he faces 15 to 60 years in jail and would not be eligible for parole. He will appear in court Dec. 9 for arraignment.

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Beware monsters who harm children

Note: Cross posted from [wp angelfury] A Human Rights Issue-Custodial Justice.



http://ydr.inyork. com/ci_13780982

Beware monsters who harm children


Updated: 11/13/2009 02:31:06 PM EST

Ostriches abound. Who knew that so many existed in central Pennsylvania, of all places? Not the large, flightless bird, of course, but the citizenry that has adopted the behavior made famous by this grounded avian. No need to be aware of what occurs. Evil acts are to be ignored, shunned, unspoken of -- heads are buried in the sand. Ignore it and it will go away.

It hasn't yet.

* * *

It started innocuously enough, a lingering hand here, an intimate brush there. It escalated. Skin-to-skin contact, groping breasts, watching her without her clothes on. He told her not to say anything to her mother. After all, "he" was her stepfather, and her mother would likely believe his word over that of an 8-year-old girl.

We'll call her Roberta.

He continued to touch her more intimately. He engaged in oral sex, vaginal sex and anal sex with her. It was not an isolated incident. It was an ongoing, horrific nightmare.

Friends would come to visit. When one stayed the night, he came in and got on top of her friend on the bed, held her down and rubbed his privates against hers. He tried to get them to watch a pornographic movie and solicited them to have sexual contact with each other. They refused.

It didn't always happen that way. Diane, Michelle and Stacy (not their real names) would visit many times. When they visited, and "he" was home, they inevitably ended up in the basement. He would force them all to havesex with him. He would "demonstrate" oral, vaginal and anal intercourse on his stepdaughter, then perform the acts on each of the girls. Diane said it hurt a lot. She didn't tell anyone because he threatened her. Diane was the oldest. She was 8.

Michelle and Stacy verified everything that Diane and Roberta said. Stacy and Michelle explained how "he" would have all of the girls perform the sexual acts on each other while he watched, and sometimes took part. They were told not to tell or he would hurt them. Stacy and Michelle were 6 years old.

* * *

Unfortunately, this is not fiction. It occurred here in York County. If not for the brave action of Roberta reporting the abuse, it may never have come to light. When her stepfather was imprisoned, Diane, Michelle and Stacy felt safe enough to come forward.

"He" was convicted of the assaults against his stepdaughter and her friend. In an all too common fashion, Roberta's mother sided with the stepfather. Rather than kick the convicted rapist out of the home, Roberta was sent to live with her grandmother. Roberta's mother stayed in contact. She badgered her daughter, trying to get her to recant her testimony and say she lied. She was unsuccessful, though her actions further traumatized Roberta, betraying her in a way that even her stepfather did not.

There are people in this county who don't believe these things happen. Intelligent, educated people that think such infamy cannot occur here. Sad to say, some of those are even judges. Luckily, this case was not before one of them. The ugly reality remains. Child abuse is no stranger to York County.

The majority of sexual assaults of children happen, to a lesser degree, just as they did to Roberta. Most abusers know their victim. Many are related, fathers, stepfathers, uncles -- and mothers, stepmothers and aunts. Women can also be abusers.

No one talks about these crimes. Eighty percent of adults who go to the emergency room for help because of a sexual assault don't contact law enforcement. Adults choose not to speak about these crimes. The victims don't, because of shame, fear or social stigma. The abusers don't, for obvious reasons. Society doesn't, because sex is dirty, or naughty, or something not mentioned in polite company. As a result, the vermin continue molesting while everyone around pretends not to see, or worse yet, doesn't see due to ignorance.

* * *

Murderers are considered to be the most dangerous of criminals. The victim of a murder, by that act, is beyond feeling. Sexual assault on a child destroys that child, destroys that child's innocence. It hangs a permanent cloud over the remainder of the child's life. It makes each day a constant struggle. It affects relationships, friendships, breeds fear, skews things the rest of the world sees as "normal." It ruins the comfort of a father's hug, the familiarity of a loving touch. It redefines a victim's self-worth.

Not only is the child abused, those close to the child are also victimized. They must suffer and survive as surely as the child does, sharing the pain and emotional, mental and physical scars.

Life should not be lived like an ostrich, head buried in the earth, ignorant and oblivious to the horrors around us. Child sexual abuse happens. There are not conspiracies between groups of 6-year-olds intent on revenge because they were not allowed ice cream. Nor were the children the sexual aggressors, nor were they "asking for it."

Do children lie? Sometimes. Do adults lie? Of course. Do children lie to get themselves in trouble? Not likely. Do adults lie to get themselves out of trouble? More often than any would like to admit.

* * *

There are many who fight this good fight. Modern day knights, sworn to protect the weak and helpless. Police officers, detectives and prosecutors who specialize in child abuse and focus on the investigation, arrest and conviction of predators immerse themselves in these cases, seeking justice and closure for current victims and protecting and preventing future victims.

Each case wears at them. Sometimes, they cannot continue and burn out. Others must step forward and pick up that burden and carry on. Luckily, they aren't alone. Doctors and nurses treat those ravaged by sexual assault. Teachers and neighbors notice inappropriate behavior and report it. Family members watch and protect the children they see and raise.

In the end, it comes down to each individual. Each person must make the conscious decision to open his or her eyes and look. Each person must choose to act when he or she sees a wrong done. Each person must choose to see the bad as well as the good.

For Roberta, her friend, Stacy, Michelle and Diane, two juries, 24 individuals opened their eyes and stared at the ugly reality of child sexual abuse. Twenty-four county residents faced trauma and cruelty. Twenty-four people listened and lost a small part of their own innocence. Twenty-four faced a hard truth, and performed a harder duty. Twenty-four decided to make our neighborhood a safer place, to protect our children.

Cases like Roberta's aren't unique. Children forced to sleep on basement floors, forced to stay outside in cold weather, forced to perform sexual acts, forced to pose naked, pierced with needles, beaten to death, shaken to death, shot to death -- all local incidents that have occurred recently.

It isn't about arrests or convictions. It's about stopping abuse, pain and predators before they harm again. It's about making our communities safer. It's about feeling secure when our children play next door.

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The miracle of birth is balanced by the grief of death. Healthy, loving relationships are offset by the twisted, deviant behavior of predators. It happens here, in our neighborhoods, schools and families. Be aware. Lift your head, dash the sand from your eyes. We owe it to ourselves.
Jeffrey Boyles is first assistant district attorney in the York County District Attorney's Office.


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Note: Cross posted from [wp angelfury] A Human Rights Issue-Custodial Justice.