Category Archives: Law

Philippine Children in Crisis

Philippine children, Author US Marines from Arlington, VA, Source flickr (PD as work product of federal govt.)

The Duterte Administration of the Philippines has resorted to mass arrests in its war on drugs, and is planning to broaden that hard line approach to include children [1][2].

New legislation would impose mandatory prison terms of up to 12 years on children as young as 9 y.o.  The children of the poor will be most heavily impacted, since they are more likely to join drug gangs in an effort to survive.

The US State Dept. website describes our nation’s relationship with the Philippines as “based on strong historical and cultural links and a shared commitment to democracy and human rights [3].”

According to the non-profit Human Rights Watch, however, conditions at government facilities for children are already inhumane.  This is particularly true at Bahay Pag-asa (“House of Hope”).  Locked in cages, children there suffer from skin infections suggesting inadequate diet and sanitation.

“I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me’ ” (Matt. 25: 36).

[1]  The Defender Magazine, Spring 2019, “Children in Crisis:  A Report from the Philippines”.

[2]  New York Times, “Philippine Law Would Make 9-Year-Olds Criminally Liable” by Jason Gutierrez, 1/22/19, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/22/world/asia/philippines-juvenile-justice-law.html.

[3]  US Department of State, “US Relations with the Philippines”, 7/17/18, https://www.state.gov/u-s-relations-with-the-philippines/.

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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Permanent Record

School books, Author KGV (Free Art License)

Some of us are old enough to remember the threat from a teacher that some minor disciplinary infraction might go on our “permanent record”.  The staff of Berkeley Heights Elementary School would have done well to heed that warning [1].

Amber Pack became concerned when she found bruises on her 6 y.o. daughter, Adri, and the little girl resisted returning to school.  A small recording device proved informative.

Christina Lester, a teacher at Berkeley, and two of her aides, Kristin Douty and June Yurish, were recorded threatening to knock the teeth out of the children in their care or withhold food from them.  To top things off, the school advised Pack to destroy the recording once they learned of its existence.

When prosecutors failed to press charges, Pack shared the recording on Facebook where it went viral.

West Virginia Attorney General, Patrick Morrisey subsequently filed suit against the Berkeley County Board of Education; Berkeley County Deputy Superintendent, Margaret Kursey; and Berkeley Heights Principal, Amber Boeckmann; along with Lester, Douty, and Yurish.  Their permanent record will be one of shame.

Adri has since been enrolled in a new school and is doing well.

[1]  People Magazine, “Ex-teacher, aides charged after mom secretly records abuse” by Harriet Sokmensuer, 8/19/19, https://people.com/crime/former-west-virginia-teacher-aides-charged-abuse-recording.

Of Note:  Registered sex offenders have filed suit in federal court to prevent Georgia Sheriff Gary Long from posting signs on their lawns warning children not to “trick or treat” there.  For details, see https://www.wthr.com/article/georgia-sex-offenders-file-suit-over-sheriffs-no-trick-or-treat-signs.

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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Courage

Motivational poster, Cadiz, Spain, Author Emilio Rodriguez Posada (PD)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

Courage comes in all shapes and sizes.  In this instance, it took the form of a captive 14 y.o. girl, in fear for her life.

The girl was a Michigan runaway, kidnapped in Indiana, and forced into prostitution in California.  Though aware that her kidnappers would monitor calls, she bravely reached out to the non-profit, Crisis Text Line, which then contacted police.

As a result, the San Jose Police Dept. raided Motel 6, locating the girl and two other women held there against their will.  Antoine Williams, Christopher Lyon Johnson, and Curtis Lee Russell were arrested, and charged with kidnapping, pimping, and human trafficking.

Crisis Text Line https://www.crisistextline.org/ is a free service that connects people in crisis with counselors.  Over 100 million messages have been processed to date.

Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you.  He will not leave you nor forsake you” (Deut. 31: 6).

[1]  People, “How a Text From a 14-Year-Old Girl Busted an Alleged Sex Trafficking Ring” by Christine Pelisek, 5/31/19, https://people.com/crime/text-14-year-old-girl-alleged-sex-ring/ .

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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Reckoning

Jeffrey Epstein mug shot, Author/Source Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Dept. (PD as created by govt.)

A New York grand jury has indicted billionaire, Jeffrey Epstein, on charges of trafficking dozens of underage girls for sex between 2002-2005 [1].

Around 80 victims have come forward, some as young as 14 y.o. at the time.

The girls were sometimes promised modeling contracts, and sometimes given money to recruit other girls.  The promise of modeling contracts is not uncommon, among sex traffickers [2].

A Life of Luxury

Epstein, 66 y.o., led a life of luxury, regularly associating with the likes of Prince Andrew, Michael Bloomberg, Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, Kevin Spacey, Dustin Hoffman, and Alec Baldwin [3].  With unlimited funds, six opulent homes, and a private island at his disposal, Epstein lacked for nothing.

Nothing, it appears, but character. Continue reading

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Why Parents Kill

“The Sacrifice of Abraham” by Giovanni Beinaschi (c. 1636), Musee des Beaux-Arts de Brest, Source https://musee.brest.fr (PD-art, PD-old-70)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

  • In 1994, divorced mother, Susan Smith, deliberately drowned her two young sons [1]. First fabricating a story that she had been hijacked, Smith ultimately admitted having intentionally rolled her vehicle into a lake with Michael, 3 y.o., and Alex, 14 m.o., still in the backseat.  Smith claimed to be suicidal at the time.  However, testimony at trial revealed Smith’s desire to resume her relationship with a man who did not want children.
  • In 1997, Melissa Drexler, 18 y.o., gave birth in a bathroom stall at her prom, suffocated her newborn, and left the baby’s body in a trash can [2].
  • In 2002, Andrea Yates drowned all five of her young children in the bathtub [3]. Yates had been suffering from serious postpartum depression, and had made multiple suicide attempts.  She was ultimately found not guilty by reason of insanity.
  • Last year, Stephanie Adams, a former Playboy model, pushed her son, Vincent, 7 y.o., out a Manhattan hotel window to his death before jumping herself [4]. Adams was involved in a custody dispute with the boy’s father at the time.
  • Last month, Martin Pereira burned his daughter Zoey, 3 y.o., to death [5A]. Intent on committing suicide, Pereira had placed the child in the backseat of his vehicle, with gas cans in the vehicle and the rear doors chained shut.  Pereira, himself, escaped the blaze at the last moment.  He, too, was involved in a custody dispute.

The names change, but the story remains the same.

A study published in Forensic Science International found that as many as 500 children per year in the United States are killed by a parent [6].  This does not take into account abortions. Continue reading

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Systemic Evil

  • Child Sexual Abuse Imagery on YouTube. A large volume of child erotica is being monetized on YouTube [1].  The YouTube algorithm unwittingly works to favor child sexual abuse imagery.  Disney, AT&T, Hasbro, Nestle, and McDonald’s have pulled advertising over the fact their ads are running on videos of young girls which pedophiles have sexualized.  YouTube is blocking predatory comments, but not taking down these videos though social media is often used to facilitate grooming.
  • Violation by Labor Secretary of Crime Victims’ Rights Act.  Judge Kenneth Marra has ruled that Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta violated the Crime Victims’ Rights Act when he arranged a plea deal for multi-millionaire Jeffrey Epstein without informing victims [2].  Despite having engaged in human trafficking and the abuse of more than 80 underage victims, Epstein was sentenced to a mere 13 months in a private wing of the Palm Beach county jail.  Acosta, then the US Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, not only failed to prosecute Epstein under federal sex trafficking laws, but denied victims their opportunity to oppose the plea deal in open court or appeal it.  Moreover, the secret plea deal shut down an ongoing FBI investigation, guaranteeing Epstein and his co-conspirators immunity from further prosecution.

Continue reading

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Sexual Violence Among Children On Base

Related image

Photo courtesy James Worthington/Pinterest

The Senate has ordered an independent evaluation of how the Defense Dept. deals with child sexual violence on military bases [1].  This follows an Associated Press investigation which exposed multiple failures, in instances with underage victims and assailants [2].

The US Armed Forces have attempted to come to terms with the rape of female soldiers for the past 10 years.  But reports of rape and sexual assault among children on base often die a slow death, under mountains of paperwork and red tape.  Some are deliberately buried.

The Defense Dept. does not, it seems, even track such reports for statistical purposes.  The Associated Press, however, managed to uncover nearly 600 cases between 2007-2018. Continue reading

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A Long Silence

Broome County Courthouse, Binghamton, NY, Author Doug Kerr (CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic)

Statutes of Limitations are time limits under the law within which accusations can be criminally prosecuted or civil damages pursued.

Purpose

Statutes of Limitations serve a dual purpose.  They encourage investigation while evidence is still available and memories fresh.   And they allow society to move forward in an orderly fashion, with old disputes resolved.

Tolling

Murder has consistently been viewed as the exception.  The crime is considered so grave by society that it warrants investigation whenever uncovered…even after many years.  The question we must ask is how closely other allegations parallel this.

Most states suspend or “toll” their Statutes of Limitations to allow injured minors to reach majority.

Many states have made special provisions for child sexual abuse cases – in part because of the breadth and heinous nature of such crimes, in part because victims are often reluctant to come forward for years, and in part because there may be repressed memories involved [1].

A Long Silence

Systemic suppression of the truth – as, for instance, by the Catholic Church – may result in a long silence.  That does not ensure societal peace…much less justice.

[1]  National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), “State Civil Statutes of Limitations in Child Sexual Abuse Cases”, 5/30/17, http://www.ncsl.org/research/human-services/state-civil-statutes-of-limitations-in-child-sexua.aspx.

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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Credibility

Detail from “Allegory of Justice” by Claude Laprade (1702), Museo Nacional Machado de Castro, Portugal, Author P.Lameiro (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

Given the recent #MeToo Movement, the Roman Catholic Church sex scandal, and the growing frequency of child abuse allegations in the context of custody disputes, the issue of credibility is crucial.

False allegations – whether of rape or child abuse which did not occur – are a serious concern.  Lives and careers can be destroyed by them.

Signs of Truthfulness

There are factors which tend to support the truthfulness of victims.  These include the following:

  • A complaint to authority, in close proximity to the alleged event.
  • Documented physical injury, in close proximity to the alleged event.
  • Changes in the behavior of a child, in close proximity to the alleged event.
  • Detailed descriptions of sexual interaction by a young child.
  • Multiple victims, unrelated to one another.
  • Recurrent victims, when an accused relocates or is reassigned.

None of these factors, by themselves, assure that allegations are grounded in fact.  Each, however, carries some weight.  All are present in the Catholic Church sex scandal. Continue reading

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Predator Priests, Part 2

WARNING:  Graphic Images

The Roman Catholic Church is not alone in facing accusations of clergy abuse.

Pastor, Heather Larson and elders of the Willow Creek Community Church, a Chicago-based megachurch, recently resigned amid a sexual abuse scandal involving church founder, Rev. Bill Hybels, and multiple women [1][2A].  Hybels resigned in April, but denies the accusations made against him.

Willow Creek meanwhile paid $3.25 million to settle lawsuits against a volunteer who sexually abused two disabled children [3].  The volunteer, Robert Sobczak, Jr. pled guilty, and is currently serving a seven-year prison term. Continue reading

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