Category Archives: Child Abuse

Along Came a Spider – Trafficking at an Elite Eastern College

Platycryptus undatus, jumping spider, found in Virginia, Author Kevincollins123 (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

Lawrence Ray a/k/a Lawrence Grecco and Isabelle Pollok have been charged in a sex trafficking and money laundering scheme involving Sarah Lawrence College students [1][2][3].  Amazingly enough, Ray was the parent of a student at the exclusive institution.  Pollok was a student there at the time.

Apparently, Ray presented himself as an advisor and confidante to his daughter’s classmates, extorting them after having gained their confidence.  Pollok allegedly abetted the scheme.  Both have pleaded not guilty.

A Father Figure

Against school policy, Ray moved into Sarah Lawrence’s townhouse style, on-campus housing with his daughter and her roommates during their sophomore year in late 2010.  No one, however, reported him to authorities.  According to the indictment, he then began “therapy” sessions with the roommates during which he assumed the role of a father figurre.

Blackmail, Extortion, and Prostitution

Over the course of a decade, Ray and Pollok are alleged to have manipulated students into providing explicit photos, embarrassing personal information, and false confessions.

Five students were then blackmailed, and pressured to perform manual labor.  At least one is said to have been forced into prostitution, with Ray collecting over $500,000 from her over the course of 4 years.  Physical abuse is, also, alleged. Continue reading

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Addicted at Birth

Week old infant weighing 430 grams,
Authors Aneta Meszko and Marcin Meszko (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

WARNING: Graphic Images

“In America, a baby is born dependent on opioids every 19 minutes [1A]”.

In the past ten years, over 130,000 children in the United States have been born with drug dependency inherited from a mother on heroin, methamphetamine, or opioids [1B].

Infant Detox

Called Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, this dependency causes poor feeding and suck reflex, with slow weight gain; vomiting; diarrhea; sweating; muscle cramps, seizures, and twitching; irritability; sleep problems; yawning, stuffy nose, and sneezing; along with shortness of breath [2][3].

Infants, in other words, experience many of the same withdrawal symptoms their mothers do [4]. They cry inconsolably from the pain.

While one study found that pre-natal drug exposure was not associated with increased mortality, it did find significantly higher mortality rates among low birth weight infants positive for cocaine and opiates [5].

Lack of Care

In one case, a baby in Oklahoma died after her mother, high on methamphetamine and opioids, put the 10-day-old girl in a washing machine with a load of dirty laundry [1C].”

The risk to addicted newborns does not stop there. Infants all too often die after being released home to mothers struggling with drug addiction.

Reuters has identified at least 110 such cases [1D]. More than 40 infants suffocated. Another 13 died after swallowing fatal doses of heroin, methadone, oxycodone, and other opioids.

In three-quarters of these cases, the mother was implicated in her child’s death; in other instances, a boyfriend, husband, or other relative was responsible [1E]. Continue reading

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Gender-Based Violence

Sukuma women and children of Tanzania, Author paulshaffner, Source Flickr (CC BY 2.0 Generic)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

The following is excerpted from an article by Lynn Monahan titled “Fighting Gender-Based Violence” in the June 2020 edition of Maryknoll Magazine:

“When she was only 8 years old, Ghati was sold by her older brother to a 55-year-old man, who put the orphan girl on a motorcycle and rode to his house… There the man raped her.

After two weeks of daily assaults, Ghati escaped while the man was working in his fields…The man was later arrested and eventually sentenced to prison.

Ghati, a pseudonym to protect her identity, was…placed in a shelter [in Tanzania] under the care of the Immaculate Heart Sisters of Africa.

‘What the center does is support vulnerable children,’ says Sister Annunciata Chacha, the director of the shelter called Jipe Moyo, a Swahili term meaning To Give Heart.

Jipe Moyo, a program of the Musoma Diocese, cares for children who have been living on the street, children who run away from domestic violence, children who flee from female genital mutilation (FGM)…sometimes called female circumcision, and girls escaping from child marriages…At the center, the children receive care, counseling and education…”

Continue reading

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Trash

Dumpster, Author Eion-Ray Patterson, Source https://www.dumpsterrentalscolga.com/ (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

A South Carolina woman, Alyssa Dayvault, 32 y.o., was convicted of two counts of homicide by child abuse for having killed her infant children – a girl and boy, born in 2017 and 2018, respectively [1A].

The Public Defender claimed that Dayvault had intended to give the children up for adoption.  Instead, Dayvault hid both pregnancies from her mother and boyfriend, ultimately disposing of the children in trash bags.

Dayvault apologized in court to her two remaining children, but seemed oblivious to the harm to her dead infants.  She was sentenced to 40 years.

Numb

The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?” (Jer. 17: 9).

We have, it seems, grown numb to the needs of our children.  With 9 months to decide the fate of each of her children, this woman committed infanticide.  Then did it again, a year later.  The children were simply trash to her.

And Alyssa Dayvault is not alone.  A Michigan woman, Antoinette Briley, 41 y.o., was charged with the murder of her twin sons in 2003 [2].  Evidence suggests she, too, discarded her newborns in the trash. Continue reading

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A Side Order of Rescue

Image © Acabashi; Creative Commons CC-BY-SA 4.0; Source: Wikimedia Commons

A Florida waitress, Flavaine Carvalho, took action to rescue an abused boy whose family was dining out at the Mrs. Potato Restaurant where she worked [1].

Carvalho noticed that the family had ordered nothing for the boy.  When she asked whether there was any problem with the food, the waitress was told the boy would be eating at home.  This explanation did not seem satisfactory, in light of injuries on the boy’s face and arms.

Taking the initiative, Carvalho fashioned a sign reading, “Do you need help?”  Then positioned where the parents could not see, she surreptitiously held it up for the boy.  When he nodded, Carvalho called police.

On questioning, the boy described having been abused by his stepfather.  The 11 y.o. asserted he had been tied up, handcuffed, struck with a broom, and hung from a door.  Bruised and markedly underweight, the boy had been denied food as a punishment.

The boy’s stepfather was charged with aggravated child abuse and neglect.  The boy’s mother — who had not sought medical attention for him — was charged with neglect.

Both the boy and a 4 y.o. sibling were removed to the custody of Florida Dept. of Children and Families.

Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart” (Col. 3: 21 NASB).

The Bible encourages reasonable discipline, appropriate to a child’s age and level of understanding.  It does not condone starvation or torture.

[1]  People Magazine, ” ‘Do You Need Help?’  Florida Waitress Used Secret Sign to Rescue Boy after Noticing Abuse:  Police” by Steve Helling, 1/15/21, https://people.com/crime/florida-waitress-used-secret-sign-rescue-abused-boy/.

The National Child Abuse Hotline is 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453).
The hotline is available 24/7 in over 170 languages.
Calls are confidential and toll free.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

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The Little Ones

Taurus 669 handgun, Author Philippe Kurlapski (CC BY-SA 1.0 Generic)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

Sadly, it is not difficult to find stories of violence and abuse in the news.

  • Messiah Taplin, a 4 y.o. Texas boy, was allegedly shot to death by Zantyler Foster-Hooks, a partygoer celebrating the New Year with a firearm inside an apartment [1].
  • A Michigan man, Latravion McMillon, is being sought in the murder of his 6 y.o. stepson, Jaylen Worthington [2].  The boy sustained head trauma, broken ribs, and a punctured lung before being pronounced brain dead.
  • A 7 y.o. Illinois girl, Natalie Wallace, was fatally shot in a drive-by, while visiting her grandmother [3A]. A 20 month old boy and a 10 y.o. girl were among those shot to death during a single Chicago weekend [3B].
  • An Arizona woman, Michelle Boone, has been charged with assaulting her children for not wearing masks, after the children tested positive for COVID-19 [4].  The children range in age from 5 y.o. to 14 y.o.  Boone struck one child in the face, picked another up by the throat, and kicked a third.  Police believe she may have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time.

The little ones are always the ones at risk.  But the scars of such abuse – assuming the children survive it – can last a lifetime.

But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven’ ” (Matt. 19: 14).


[1]  ABC News, “New Year’s reveler dancing with gun allegedly shoots, kills 4-year-old Texas boy: Police” by by Bill Hutchinson, 1/1/21, https://abcnews.go.com/US/year-texas-boy-messiah-taplin-fatally-shot-years/story?id=75004512.

[2]  Law & Crime Network, “Michigan Police Looking for Man Who Allegedly Killed His 6-Year-Old Stepson” by Alberto Luperon, 1/1/21, https://lawandcrime.com/crazy/michigan-police-looking-for-man-who-allegedly-killed-his-6-year-old-stepson/.

[3A and 3B]  ABC News, “Children ages 7, 8, and 14 killed as gun violence mars holiday /weekend in Chicago andAtlanta” by Bill Hutchinson, 7/5/20, https://abcnews.go.com/US/children-ages-14-killed-gun-violence-mars-holiday/story?id=71621109.

[4]  People Magazine, “Woman Accused of Assaulting Her Kids for Not Wearing Masks After They Test Positive for COVID-19” by Chris Harris, 1/1/21, https://people.com/crime/woman-accused-assault-kids-not-wearing-masks/.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

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The Sins of the Fathers

“Shipwreck: the sun breaking through the clouds after a storm” by William Joy (1859), Photographer/Source Christie’s Auctions, (PD-Art, PD-Age)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

We close 2020 on a tragic note:  the sexual assault and battery of a newborn by a 14 y.o. boy living in the same Florida foster home [1A].

Assailant Sexualized as a Toddler

The teenage assailant is thought to have been sexualized as a toddler, when his biological mother exposed him to pornography and engaged in sexual activity in his presence.

History of Prior Assaults

“If someone is predatory, they are going to focus in on someone that is vulnerable.  Putting a young child in a situation like that is beyond shocking.”

-Pediatric Neuropsychologist, Thomas Dikel [1B]

The couple who fostered then adopted this boy (the Kleins); the non-profit responsible for overseeing child welfare locally (Kids Central); and the entity providing case management services (The Center) were all aware of the boy’s dangerous proclivities, since he had sexually assaulted other children.

Nonetheless, Kids Central and The Center continued to send foster children to the Kleins’ home. Continue reading

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A Child Is Born

Yawning newborn, Author Martin Falbisoner (PD)

For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder.  And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9: 6).

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 8.28% of American infants (some 240,000) are born with low birthweight [1].  Over 194,000 are born to teen mothers as young as 15 [2].

More than 5 in every 1000 will die in infancy – a rate 71% higher than that of other developed nations [3][4].  Another 862,000 will be aborted before birth [5].

Approximately 40% of American children are born out of wedlock [6].  19.7 million (1 in 4) live without a father in the home [7]. Continue reading

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“People Pleasing” Behavior, Part 2

Foto Removing the mask. Fotografia tirada por Luciano Moreira inserida na categoria arte-digital
Saved from junior.fineart-portugal.com

Those of us who are “people pleasers” as the result of childhood abuse and/or domestic violence have our reasons.  Deprived of affection, we long for acceptance.  Often cruelly punished when we did not conform to the expectations of others, we fear rejection.

Saying “no” to a request is difficult for us.  Putting boundaries in place, since it was never allowed, feels foreign and selfish.  We may even have been taught that it was “unchristian”.

Unfortunately, “people pleasing” behavior is not productive in the long run.  It is likely to leave us overworked and overwhelmed – often angry with ourselves for having failed to speak out.  Over time, we can lose sight of who we really are.

Inauthenticity drains the joy from living.  How then do we change this behavior?

Continue reading

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“People Pleasing” Behavior, Part 1

Traffic jam, Author Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz Mariordo (GFDL, CC Attribution 3.0 Unported)

  • You make a left-hand turn at an intersection, with your signal on well in advance.  The driver behind you stops in mid-roadway, and exits her vehicle to shout at you.  You can see her in your rearview mirror, gesturing wildly.   Puzzled, you re-examine your actions for several hours, in a fruitless effort to identify what you did wrong.
  • The vehicle behind yours persists in tailgating.  You can feel the sweat break out on your brow.  You check and re-check your speed.  Finally, the other driver tears past, and you breathe a sigh of relief.
  • Alone at night, in a deserted area, you speed up after the vehicle behind yours repeatedly flashes its high beams.  When you do stop at a lit plaza, the other driver pulls alongside to berate you.  You are mortified, at a loss how to respond.

Admittedly, there are lunatics on the road these days.  And all of us make occasional mistakes, whether driving or otherwise.

The truth is that we cannot please everyone, even when we adhere perfectly to the rules of the road or the rules of civil society.  Unlike the rules of the road, of course, the rules of society are often ambiguous.

But the inability to please others is extraordinarily painful for those of us who are “people pleasers” as a consequence of child abuse.  Domestic violence only adds another layer to our distress.

We long for peace, and try to achieve it through compromise.  We twist ourselves into pretzels trying to please.

The problem is that we have deep reservoirs of undeserved shame.  Our first assumption, in the face of any confrontation, is that we must be in error.

Since all human beings are fallible, we can generally find flaws in ourselves.  These do not, however, justify abusive behavior by those with whom we come in contact.

This series will conclude next week.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

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