Children's News & Views 2007

 

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December 2007

ARIZONA

Open your heart

Foster parenting brings stability to a child in need — maybe for the 1st time

Opinion by Tim Bee, Special to the Arizona Daily Star

12-24-07 -- News stories of child endangerment and death have become far too common these days. There should be more safe places where children can go when Child Protective Services removes them from abusive or neglectful homes. . . . With five children of our own, my wife Grace and I never thought about becoming foster parents until we were faced with the opportunity to help a member of our family. . . . Child Protective Services placed our niece into our home shortly after she was born nearly two years ago and we have been tremendously blessed to have her. . . . It began as a kinship care placement. Since then we have become licensed foster parents and are eagerly awaiting her adoption. . . . The most recent statistics show that at any one time in Arizona there are more than 9,000 abused or neglected children in out-of-home care. More than 75 percent of these children are able to be placed in family-like settings with relatives or in foster homes. Other children live in group homes and shelters. . . . In Pima County as of Sept. 30, there were 2,442 children in out-of-home care. Needless to say, there is a tremendous need for relative caregivers and foster parents in our community.


OxiClean Baby


KENTUCKY

Statewide problems with child services

By Bob White

12-23-07 -- When news of problems involving child protection and permanency services of Hardin County broke nearly two years ago, a key fighter for family rights warned the issue was not isolated. . . . Parents throughout the state were losing children after unfounded allegations of abuse and neglect, said David Richart, executive director of the National Institute on Children, Youth and Families. . . . In recent weeks, the widespread problems Richart warned of have made headlines from Louisville to Lexington. . . . He credits the light shone on abuses of power within Hardin County’s Department for Community Based Services for bringing problems within other state child protection and permanency offices to the forefront.


MARYLAND

State settles case of boy abused in foster care

By Lynn Anderson | Sun reporter

12-19-07 -- The Maryland Department of Human Resources has agreed to pay out $1.5 million to care for a Baltimore boy who suffered irreversible brain damage after he was abused by another child in the foster home where he was placed by the city Department of Social Services. . . . The boy, Brandon Williams, who is now 5 years old and still unable to speak or walk, will receive an annuity of $80,000 a year for life to pay for his medical care, according to attorneys. The state has also agreed to pay the family $580,000 and guarantee that the boy will receive Medicaid assistance even though the annuity would have rendered him financially ineligible.


GEORGIA  

Suit targets lawyers in tot's death

By Andy Miller, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

12-17-07 --  A 2-year-old Atlanta girl whose death sparked widespread outrage was placed in a dangerous home because her publicly appointed attorneys failed to represent her properly in court hearings, a lawsuit alleges. . . . Nateyonna Banks died in November 2006 after being placed with her mother, who was charged with beating her to death. The girl's estate filed suit Friday against Fulton County's child advocate attorney office and the lawyers who represented her. . . . Attorney Don Keenan of the Keenan Law Firm, who filed the suit in Fulton state court, said Fulton's Office of the Child Advocate Attorney failed to fully investigate Nateyonna's mother, Shandrell Banks. . . . Keenan said Banks had a history of Fulton's Department of Family and Children Services removing her children, had a mental illness and had a drug possession conviction. . . . The child advocate attorney office is understaffed, underfunded and overworked, Keenan said, citing a University of Georgia study.


MICHIGAN  

Judge: Michigan must release names to group in abuse case

The Associated Press

12-17-07 --  (AP) — A judge has ordered Michigan to disclose to an advocacy group the names of 2,893 foster children who were subjects of abuse or neglect allegations while they were in state custody. . . . Donald A. Scheer, a U.S. District Court magistrate judge in Detroit, on Friday also ordered the state Department of Human Services to preserve the 2006 and 2007 e-mails of 33 department officials. . . . The ruling is pending an agreement on how to narrow the search to e-mails relevant to the operation of the foster care system.


TEXAS

Texas Attorney General sues two sites for children's privacy violations

They're accused of violating the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act

Jaikumar Vijayan

12-10-07 -- Texas Attorney General Gregg Abbott has sued two Web sites that cater to children for failing to take adequate measures to protect their identities and personal information. . . . The lawsuits are the first in the US to be brought under the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) of 1998 and highlight the many privacy pitfalls facing minors that the law is designed to address. . . . COPPA requires Web sites to implement controls for obtaining verifiable parental consent before information can be gathered from children. The law also prohibits sites from requiring children to disclose an excessive amount of personal information as a precondition for participating in online games and activities. . . . "Federal law provides important protections to prevent children from divulging sensitive personal information and to shield them from inappropriate sexual or violent content online," Abbott said in statement. According to him, the two Web sites his office has targeted -- TheDollPalace.com and Gamesradar.com -- are in violation of COPPA because they failed to include necessary disclosures and obtain parental consent before collecting personal information from children.


INDIANA

Open book, open minds needed for child safety

Indianapolis Star Editorial

12-8-07 -- Our position: Improvements in child protection must not be taken for granted. . . . Release of the files in the appalling case of TaJanay Bailey does not appear to refute the state's contention that it has improved its system for child protection. . . . What is shown in the 1,500-page record released by court order on Thursday is that no system is better than the human judgments made within it. . . . Nor is there any system, in the broad sense of the term, that cannot be made more responsive to ever-changing situations that threaten young lives. What if, for example, police had been notified when TaJanay was brought to the emergency room in May 2006? What if the Thanksgiving holiday had not delayed a trip to court where her removal from the home where she died would have been argued for? . . . The book remains open as to what went wrong and who might have acted wrongly in the state's management of 3-year-old TaJanay and her infant brother, who were placed on a trial basis with their mother and their mother's boyfriend and kept there over the objections of a counselor and a child advocate. TaJanay died from abuse in that home and Charity Bailey and Lawrence Green face murder and neglect charges. . . . That the book has been opened is a credit to Gov. Mitch Daniels, the state Department of Child Services and DCS director James W. Payne, who inherited a child protection system with manifold problems, one of them being overuse of confidentiality on cases that -- tragically -- had taken on public interest.


KENTUCKY

Ky. courts facing challenges to life without parole for juveniles

The Associated Press

Published: December 8, 2007

12-8-07 -- Five young offenders — serving life without parole for crimes committed in Kentucky while juveniles — have challenged that penalty, saying state law doesn't allow it. . . . Their lawyers, part of a national push by youth advocates to re-examine life sentences for young offenders, hope to expand on a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2005 that invalidated the death penalty for juveniles. . . . "Kids are just different," said Assistant Public Advocate Tim Arnold, who represents one of the five, Kevin Stanford. "We don't just give up on them altogether. Life without parole says we're giving up on them." . . . Prosecutors don't buy the argument. Chris Cohron, commonwealth's attorney in Bowling Green, said when a crime is especially egregious, the offender's age doesn't matter. "There is a certain percentage of the population that just doesn't need to be put back in society," Cohron said. . . . Michelle Leighton, a University of San Francisco professor who has studied juvenile lifers, says, "Kentucky is at a turning point" on the issue.


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FLORIDA

3 Women Charged With Stealing Public Assistance Money From DCF

12-7-07 -- A state Department of Children and Families employee and two other women have been charged with stealing more than $1.5 million in state assistance money. . . . The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said Friday that Violet Jones, 41, of Miramar, a DCF supervisor in Plantation, was charged with grand theft, fraud, identity theft, misconduct and money laundering, among other charges. . . . Jones allegedly diverted to her own home a debit-type card that is used by public assistance recipients and was tied to a real account. Investigators say she then authorized extra cash benefits to be deposited into the unknowing recipient's account, then withdrew cash using the card. Jones worked for DCF for 22 years. . . . Also charged in the case were sisters Shanika Shorter, 25, and Tanisha Shorter, 22, both of Fort Lauderdale. . . . The trio also allegedly used public assistance benefits accounts in Shanika Shorter's name to siphon state money, investigators said.



November 2007

Child Abuse Worsens as Families Change
By Michael Reagan

11-30-07 -- Child abuse is growing out of control here in America, and there’s a good reason why: the traditional family is coming apart at the seams. . . . According to reports made to state agencies, there were 900,000 incidents of child abuse in 2005 alone. These raw numbers give no clue just how much child abuse correlates with parents’ marital status or the make-up of the victim’s household, although these are vitally important factors in child abuse cases. The proof is in the news far too often. . . . Nothing is more important to child welfare than living within the bosom of a stable family, and nothing is more destructive to their well-being than being forced to live in a fatherless household where dad is replaced by the live-in boyfriend, or as is often the case, by a series of live-in boyfriends. . . . In almost all cases of horrific child abuse that is exactly the situation of the victim. Nobody is more at risk today than children living in fatherless homes where the mother’s boyfriend is sharing her bed while avoiding the commitment of marriage, or a new husband views her children as unwanted consequences of the new marriage.


TEXAS

DNA test confirms Riley Sawyers is Baby Grace

By Harvey Rice, Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle

“Baby Grace” -- Riley Ann Sawyers

11-30-07 -- DNA testing confirms that the child known as Baby Grace, whose body was found in a box on a sand bar in West Galveston Bay, is 2-year-old Riley Ann Sawyers, the Galveston County Sheriff's Office said Friday. . . . Sheriff's investigators received laboratory results Friday showing a match in DNA samples from the body discovered Oct. 29 by a fisherman and samples from Riley's father and mother. . . . Riley's mother, Kimberly Dawn Trenor, 19, and her husband, Royce Clyde Zeigler II, 24, both of Spring, are in Galveston County Jail in lieu of $350,000 bail each on charges of injury to a child and evidence tampering. . . . Riley's father, Robert Sawyers, 20, of Painesville, Ohio, and Trenor were not married. . . . Although Trenor confirmed to investigators Nov. 24 that Riley was Baby Grace, the DNA match gives investigators scientific evidence proving the identity that can be used in court, the Sheriff's Office said.


MISSISSIPPI

Report gives state's Youth Court system scathing review

By Jimmie E. Gates

11-28-07 --Mississippi's Youth Court system compromises public safety and violates the constitutional rights of children because of overwhelming caseloads and inadequate resources, according to a report. . . . The two-year study by the Mississippi Youth Justice Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center and the National Juvenile Defender Center also outlined other problems plaguing the system, including:. . . / Untimely appointment of attorneys to represent youths. / Inadequate representation of youths. / An overflow of referrals from schools. . . . Youth courts are overrun with referrals from local schools where children are routinely arrested for minor, school-related offenses that drain resources, clog dockets and fill detention-center beds, according to the study.



October 2007

Sexual Misconduct Plagues US Schools

Investigation finds 2,570 teachers booted after accusations of sexual misconduct

By Martha Irvine & Robert Tanner, AP National Writers

10-23-07 -- AP Video The young teacher hung his head, avoiding eye contact. Yes, he had touched a fifth-grader's breast during recess. "I guess it was just lust of the flesh," he told his boss. . . . That got Gary C. Lindsey fired from his first teaching job in Oelwein, Iowa. But it didn't end his career. He taught for decades in Illinois and Iowa, fending off at least a half-dozen more abuse accusations. . . . When he finally surrendered his teaching license in 2004 - 40 years after that first little girl came forward - it wasn't a principal or a state agency that ended his career. It was one persistent victim and her parents. . . .Lindsey's case is just a small example of a widespread problem in American schools: sexual misconduct by the very teachers who are supposed to be nurturing the nation's children. . . . Students in America's schools are groped. They're raped. They're pursued, seduced and think they're in love. . . . An Associated Press investigation found more than 2,500 cases over five years in which educators were punished for actions from bizarre to sadistic.


MAINE

Abstainers Are Killers?
By Brent Bozell III
10-19-07 -- Portland, Maine, found itself in the national spotlight on the morning of Oct. 17. The King Middle School was debating whether to provide birth control to sixth-graders without their parents' consent or knowledge -- not just condoms, but even birth control pills or contraceptive patches. . . . ABC's "Good Morning America" picked up the story, with anchor Diane Sawyer first professing shock at the young ages involved, but then echoing the proponents' justification: Children "are caught in the changing worlds of early puberty and sexual messages everywhere." . . . That's the line that rings in the ear. ABC is addressing a social problem: How to deal with middle-schoolers wanting to have sex because they're inundated with sexual messages in ads, in music videos, with sexual themes endlessly discussed and dramatized on television? . . . Sawyer invited on talk show host Glenn Beck and "sexologist" Logan Levkoff (promoted by fans as the "Get It On Guru") to debate it. Sawyer asked Levkoff: "Would you draw the line anywhere? What if it were grade school?" Amazingly, she replied, "I don't necessarily draw the line, because we're in a world where we get so many sexual messages." . . . Levkoff lives in a parallel universe. We are talking about little boys and little girls, 11 years old. . . . The lesson from the anything-goes crowd is so illogical it borders on the obscene. In order to "protect the youth" from unsavory sexual messages, we should provide them will all the technology so they can have "safe sex" -- even at age 11. But who is responsible for this bombardment of sexual messaging in our culture that's fueling this fire?


Lifers as Teenagers, Now Seeking Second Chance

By Adam Liptak

10-17-07 -- In December, the United Nations took up a resolution calling for the abolition of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for children and young teenagers. The vote was 185 to 1, with the United States the lone dissenter. . . . Indeed, the United States stands alone in the world in convicting young adolescents as adults and sentencing them to live out their lives in prison. According to a new report, there are 73 Americans serving such sentences for crimes they committed at 13 or 14. . . . Mary Nalls, an 81-year-old retired social worker here, has some thoughts about the matter. Her granddaughter Ashley Jones was 14 when she helped her boyfriend kill her grandfather and aunt — Mrs. Nalls’s husband and daughter — by stabbing and shooting them and then setting them on fire. Ms. Jones also tried to kill her 10-year-old sister. . . . Mrs. Nalls, who was badly injured in the rampage, showed a visitor to her home a white scar on her forehead, a reminder of the burns that put her into a coma for 30 days. She had also been shot in the shoulder and stabbed in the chest.


The big list: Female teachers with students
Most comprehensive account on Internet of women predators on campus
10-16-07 -- WorldNetDaily.com’s list of the teacher 'sexpidemic' cases WND has documented where female teachers have been accused, or convicted, of assaulting students.


CALIFORNIA

Republican Governator Hands Cal. Kids To Homosexuals

by Alan Stang, NewsWithViews.com

10-16-07 -- Personally, I do not want to know what goes on in the ladies’ room. I do know that ladies rise from the table and leave together for the ladies’ so they can talk without embarrassment about how handsome, how charming and how utterly brilliant we men are, but I don’t want to know any more. Even worse than knowing any more, far worse, would be going with them into the ladies’ room. Speaking for other normal men, any man – except the plumber – who spends time in the ladies ’ room, is not a man we want covering our back; we would rather hitch hike across Baghdad or stand knee deep in kimchi. . . . But California Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed a law (SB777) that allows boys and girls in California government schools to use each others’ rest rooms and locker rooms. When I went to school, before the revolution – just after they installed indoor plumbing – any boy caught in the girls’ room in school would have been dragged into the street and beaten into a bloody mess. If he survived, his embarrassed father would have finished him off. But, again, that was before the revolution. . . . Consider also that any curious boy in the girls’ room inevitably will get into trouble. The trouble will be entered in his file, which will stay with him the rest of his life, and the school psychologist will put him on anti-boy drugs, which will predispose him to adult drug addiction. . . . The Governator’s new law also bans usages like “Mom and Dad,” and “husband and wife,” because such combinations are offensive to California sodomites and maybe even abnormal. I do not exaggerate. Der Governator also signed AB394, which subjects parents and teachers to indoctrination with “anti-harassment training.” It mandates all kinds of homosexual propaganda the state will pay for in the schools. From now on, homecoming kings and queens could be of any sex.


Children as state informants

Thomas Lifson, American Thinker Blog
10-5-07 -- I remember being horrified as a child when I learned in the 1950s that under communism children were turned into informants against their parents. I could not believe that the cold hand of the state could be so cruel as turn child and parent against each other. . . . But it is beginning to happen in America. Michael Graham of the Boston Herald writes a hair-raising account of his child's recent visit to a pediatrician. I came across it on Jules Crittenden's blog.  Graham writes:

"The doctor wanted to know how much you and mom drink, and if I think it's too much," my daughter told us afterward, rolling her eyes in that exasperated 13-year-old way. "She asked if you two did drugs, or if there are drugs in the house."  . . . "What!" I yelped. "Who told her about my stasher, I mean, ‘It's an outrage!' " . . . I turned to my wife. "You took her to the doctor. Why didn't you say something?" . . . She couldn't, she told me, because she knew nothing about it. All these questions were asked in private, without my wife's knowledge or consent. . . . "The doctor wanted to know how we get along," my daughter continued. Then she paused. "And if, well, Daddy, if you made me feel uncomfortable." . . . Great. I send my daughter to the pediatrician to find out if she's fit to play lacrosse, and the doctor spends her time trying to find out if her mom and I are drunk, drug-addicted sex criminals. . . . Graham goes on to cite the case of a child being asked about her parents' weapons, all perfectly legal, and the police being informed. . . . Children are being turned into police informants via their doctor (and nevermind medical confidentiality). This turns out to be widespread, since professional guidelines for pediatricians from the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend interrogating children about the parents.


FLORIDA

U.S. Prosecutor Held in a Child Sex Sting Kills Himself

By Abby Goodnough, NY Times

10-5-07 -- A federal prosecutor charged with traveling from Florida to Michigan to have sex with a 5-year-old girl committed suicide on Friday in prison, his lawyer said. . . . The prosecutor, J. D. Roy Atchison, 53, was arrested on Sept. 16 leaving a plane in Detroit as part of an Internet sting operation led by the sheriff’s department in Macomb County, Mich. . . . The authorities said he had been chatting online for two weeks with an undercover detective who posed as a mother offering to let men have sex with her young daughter. . . . At the time of his arrest, the authorities said, Mr. Atchison, of Gulf Breeze, Fla., was carrying a Dora the Explorer doll, hoop earrings and petroleum jelly. . . . A spokeswoman for the Bureau of Prisons said Mr. Atchison was found unresponsive on Friday morning in the special housing unit of the federal prison in Milan, Mich. He had been transferred there after trying to hang himself in the Sanilac County Jail days after his arrest.


September 2007

WISCONSIN    

After Overturning Verdict, Judge Keeps Pask in Jail

By Jenn Karlman

9-26-07 -- Two weeks ago, a jury convicted a registered sex offender of trying to lure a nine-year-old girl into a restroom at a Sheboygan park. Hours after the verdict, the judge overturned it, saying the park was not secluded, which was a key element to the criminal charge. . . . But Mitchell Pask did not walk out of jail. He was held on a separate disorderly conduct charge, and a judge's decision on Tuesday means Pask will likely stay in jail for at least another week-and-a-half. . . . Judge Van Akkeren could have let Pask go -- after all, under the law his felony conviction for child enticement was overturned -- but instead Van Akkeren decided to wait and keep him in jail until next week Friday.


TENNESSEE  

Memphis lawyer imprisoned for child porn

9-24-07 -- (UPI) Memphis lawyer D. Beecher Smith II, who at one time represented Elvis Presley, has been sentenced to five years in prison on child pornography charges. . . . He blamed his venture into viewing child pornography on depression over his identical twin being put in prison for child molestation as well as his mother's death and alcoholism, the Memphis Commercial Appeal reported Sunday. . . . "I am truly sorry," said Smith, 58, in a statement in court. "My fault lies in curiosity, I was lured to sites that featured pornography, and then I was lured to sites that featured child pornography." . . . U.S. District Court Judge Bernice Donald said numerous friends and family members sent letters on Smith's behalf, but added that viewing child pornography helps sustain a market for the exploitation of children.


The Teenage Casualties of Casual Sex
By Doug Giles
9-22-07 -- Chances are historically high, young person, that if you screw around sexually nowadays well…you could very well be…screwed. As in, for life, with the “gift” that keeps on giving—namely, a Sexually Transmitted Disease. . . . FYI young dudes and dudettes: no matter what they tell you on the various TV commercials, these diverse and multitudinous sex plagues aren’t just a “little inconvenient” like a runny nose, halitosis or dandruff. They are devastating. . . . The entrance of an STD into your B-O-D could equal one or more of the following: perpetual physical pain, public humiliation, chronic depression, infertility, increased chance of birth defects in your kids (if you can still have them), cervix, penile and anal cancer and/or an early and horrible visit from the Grim Reaper. . . . Now, I know what most teenage crotch rockets and their aiding and abetting adult purveyors of the follow-your-little-head propaganda are thinking: “It could never happen to me. I’m special. That kind of stuff only happens to skanks like Courtney Love and Tommy Lee, and anyway, more than likely this is trumped-up parent/Bible Belt-inspired blather lathered up to make us keep our zippers in the upright and locked position.”


Five Ways to Help Children Cope with Their Parents' Divorce

by J. Benjamin Stevens

8-29-07 -- The fact is that parents can have a positive impact on this process, if they will do the following: . . . Reassurance – Reassure them of your love, and your ex-spouses love for them. Remind them frequently that your divorce had nothing to do with them, that they are not at fault, and that your love for them will never change. . . . Flexibility – Be flexible to meet your child’s needs above your own. If your ex has visitation scheduled for a weekend when your son has a soccer game, let your ex go to the game, and you stay home. Try to work together to meet your child’s needs, and not get petty with visitation scheduling. . . . Respect – Never, never, never, speak badly about your ex in front of your children. Always be respectful of your ex in words and actions in front of your kids. If you want to sound off, do that with your friends, never your kids. . . . Curtail Dating – I believe that when you make the decision to divorce, you also make the decision that your kids come first. Don’t begin dating and introducing new people into your kids lives. It will only add to more loss. If you feel the need to date, do so when the kids are visiting your ex, or when they in bed at night. Your time is limited, and it should be spent with your kids. Only introduce someone to your kids if you are engaged and plan on marrying again. . . . Fake It – Sometimes you won’t feel like being kind towards your ex, and that’s when you’ll just have to fake it. Put a smile on your face, be respectful and nice. Remember, the gift of kindness you are giving is not for your ex, it is for your kids. They need that gift most of all. . . . Source:  "The Devastation of Divorce" by Trish Berg, posted at Inspired Parenting.


ILLINOIS

Illinois School Pushes Smut on Children as Young as 12 with Porn-Laden Book

Special to LifeSiteNews.com By J. Matt Barber

8-29-07 -- (LifeSiteNews.com) - Illinois School District 126, covering Alsip, Hazelgreen and Oak Lawn, has defended its choice to assign summer reading to 12- and 13-year-olds that is replete with harsh profanity and references to teen sex (even teen sex with adults).  . . . Prairie Junior High School's required reading list for rising 8th graders gave children six books to choose from over the summer.  Parents have complained that three of the six books contain adult content which is highly age-inappropriate.  Those complaints, however, have fallen on deaf ears.  At a recent school board meeting, school board members said they intend to continue assigning the books.  . . . To add insult to injury, the school didn't even have the courtesy to warn these kids - or their parents - about the adult content within the assigned reading.  And parents are understandably furious.  If one of my daughters came to me at twelve having been assigned this smut, I'd be ticked-off too. . . . Whatever happened to classics like Ivanhoe or Up From Slavery?  Sure, some of them may even contain limited profanity and adult content, but there's a big difference.  The profane content in Fat Kid isn't sporadic.  It's pervasive and gratuitous.  The book has 110 pages containing the F-word and other profanities, and there are multiple crude sexual references. . . . With all the objectionable material children are subjected to on the internet, on television and in theatres, it's outrageous that educators, who are charged with helping to mold the minds of these 12- and 13-year-olds, would willingly - if not eagerly - contribute to their moral degradation by pushing this kind of vulgarity on them.  It amounts to educational malpractice, and School District 126 should have its mouth washed out with soap.  . . . I telephoned Robert Berger, superintendent of schools for District 126, fully expecting him to assure me that this foolishness would be remedied.  But instead, his response was defiant, defensive and arrogant.  . . . Berger refused to answer me when I asked him several times if District 126 believed that such mature content was appropriate for children.  (I wonder; if it's so appropriate, then why wouldn't he defend it?)  . . . I asked Berger if one could infer that the district found the material appropriate since it was assigned to children.  He quipped, "Infer whatever you want to." . . . No one's calling for a book burning here, but c'mon, these are just kids.  Does District 126 have any standards of decency at all?


Lillian Vernon Online


MASSACHUSETTS

'Gay' lessons violate civil rights, man says
Case of dad handcuffed and jailed for objecting moves to appeals court

By Bob Unruh, © 2007 WorldNetDaily.com

8-24-07 -- A Massachusetts man handcuffed and hauled to jail after he objected to a public school teaching his kindergarten-age son about homosexuality has gone to the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals seeking justice. . . . The man, his wife and another family are battling what they describe as a court order for segregation, after a judge ruled if they didn't like the school's advocacy for homosexuality, they could take their children and leave. . . . They also are arguing that U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf's statement that "as it is difficult to change attitudes … after they have developed, it is reasonable for public schools to attempt to teach understanding and respect for gays and lesbians," actually is unconstitutional. . . . The appeal is in the case brought by David and Tonia Parker and Joseph and Robin Wirthlin, who have children of school age in Lexington, Mass. They alleged district officials and staff at Estabrook Elementary School violated state law and civil rights by indoctrinating their children to approve homosexuality, which they, as Christians, teach is immoral. . . . Wolf, however, concluded that Christians who attend public schools in Massachusetts need such teachings to be "engaged and productive citizens" and dismissed the families' civil rights claim. . . . Wolf said it is reasonable, indeed there is an obligation, for public schools to teach young children to accept and endorse homosexuality. The judge agreed that "the rights of religious freedom and parental control over the upbringing of children … would undermine teaching and learning." . . . "Wolf's ruling is every parent's nightmare. It goes to extraordinary lengths to legitimize and reinforce the 'right' (and even the duty) of schools to normalize homosexual behavior to even the youngest of children," said a statement from the pro-family group Mass Resistance.


OREGON  

DA pledges review after judge tosses swatting case

Yamhill County - The boys' lawyer prepares to sue officials, citing "unlawful prosecution"

Susan Goldsmith, The Oregonian Staff

8-22-07 --Yamhill County District Attorney Bradley Berry promised a full review of the prosecution of two 13-year-old McMinnville boys to determine what his office "did well and what we could improve upon" in pursuing criminal charges that a judge threw out Monday. . . . Cory Mashburn and Ryan Cornelison walked out of the courtroom free from supervision for the first time in six months after apologizing to four girls as part of a compromise that averted a sexual harassment trial. They had been accused of swatting girls on the buttocks and touching two girls on the breast at their middle school. . . . "I believe these youths have now moved from a model of bad behavior in the schools to an opportunity to be advocates for good behavior in the schools -- behavior which promotes respect for other students and their personal and physical and psychological integrity," said Circuit Judge John L. Collins.


Who Will Tell Our Stories? We're just kids.

Posted by Deborah Fellows on NY Civil Rights

8-11-07 -- They are the stories no one wants to hear -- children, abused and neglected, some to the point of death. Many of them must leave their families to go into shelters or foster care. Often these children leave their homes with only a garbage bag to hold their clothes and favorite toys. Most are routinely tossed from one temporary placement to another, often ten or twenty times during their most formative, vulnerable years. This is the continuing saga of crimes against foster children. Children are dying, inside and out. They were under the care of a state agency, but that didn't prevent their deaths.

Who Will Tell Our Stories?
If somebody asks you why we died....please tell them we're just kids, please tell them about us. Tell Our Stories!!!

Let's NOT allow these precious children's death to be in vain - in the news one day, forgotten the next.

The only way to create change is to bring it to the public's attention. It is about the children! Please hear the childrens' cry ! http://suncanaa.com/

In the name of those innocent children please sign the PETITION


MARYLAND

Telling kids homosexuality 'innate' challenged
Court asked to overturn curriculum deemed inaccurate, unsafe
© 2007 WorldNetDaily.com

8-3-07 -- A public school district board's decision to teach homosexuality is innate and anal sex is just an alternative will be challenged in court after officials in Maryland refused to address concerns raised by parents. . . . Officials with the Thomas More Law Center told WND the issues are too important to ignore. . . . The curriculum, developed in-house by the Montgomery County Board of Education, not only is inaccurate, but it could expose children to life-threatening diseases by failing to provide sufficient warnings about alternative sexual behaviors, according to Edward L. White III, trial counsel with the Law Center who is handling the case. . . . "This curriculum is full of factual inaccuracies and runs counter to sound educational policy," he said. "It should not be taught in the public school." . . . White said parents also should be alarmed by the teaching of "sexual variations." . . . "The students are introduced to anal sex, which has a much higher risk rate of [various] infections," he said. "It's endangering the lives of students." . . . "It's not the school system that's going to be taking care of them," said White. "It falls on parents, because the school did not do its job."


July 2007

MARYLAND   

MONTGOMERY SEXUAL ABUSE CASE

Prosecutors Challenge Dismissal

Judge Had Ruled That Search for Interpreter Took Too Long

By Mariana Minaya, Washington Post Staff Writer

7-25-07 -- Prosecutors in Montgomery County said that they intend to ask an appellate court to overturn a judge's dismissal of a case against a Liberian immigrant charged with raping a young girl. The judge had ruled that repeated delays caused by the court's failure to find an interpreter fluent in the accused man's native dialect had violated his right to a speedy trial. . . . Mahamu D. Kanneh was arrested in August 2004 after witnesses told police he raped and repeatedly molested a 7-year-old relative. The case was dismissed last week, nearly three years later, by Circuit Court Judge Katherine D. Savage.


This is Child Protection?

By Gregory A. Hession, J.D.

7-23-07 --Imagine your terror and panic: you are awakened by an armed SWAT team in the middle of the night, demanding to be let into your home to take your children away. The grim-faced agents show you no warrant, no court order, and no mercy. They give you no reason for their presence, other than having received an unspecified report about child abuse. They bark commands and menace you and your children with their weapons. The children are taken out of your home screaming, shoved into cars, and whisked away into the night. . . . This is not a Soviet-era movie script, but a reality in thousands of homes in the United States every year, courtesy of state child protective services agencies. . . . The least reported and understood social crisis of our time is the vast new police state run by these state social services agencies, which are generically referred to as “child protective services,” or CPS. The states have different names for them, such as Department of Social Services or Department of Children and Families, but they are all operating under a federal mandate. Whatever they are called, our next generation of children may never recover from their predatory intrusions into families. . . . Some may dismiss these concerns as hyperbole, but the numbers are appalling. In 2005 alone, over 3.3 million reports involving six million children were made to state child-abuse hot lines, the vast majority of which eventually proved to be untrue. Over 500,000 children currently are in foster care. Another 300,000 or so are forcibly removed from their homes by the system every year. Tens of billions of dollars are expended every year on the care of these children, and on the juvenile court systems which enable it, along with costs of therapy, drugs, lawyers, and related services.


Ex-justice says kids don't respect courts

Mark Hornbeck / Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Victims-of-Law Comment:

Thousands of children have already learned how corrupt the family courts are!

7-23-07 -- Public education, criticized roundly throughout the National Governors Association conference here the past four days, took another punch on the chin today, this time from retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. . . . O'Connor said growing disrespect for judges and erosion of independence of the judicial branch is partly due to students not learning much about American government in school. . . . "The key to maintaining our system lies in the education of our citizens," O'Connor told the 19 governors who stuck around for the final day of the summer meeting. . . . She added in her 12-minute speech that surveys have shown fewer teenagers can identify the three branches of government than can name the Three Stooges. . . . "Now I enjoy Larry, Moe and Curly, but" it's distressing that students don't know the most basic concepts of government, said O'Connor, a Reagan appointee who retired last year after 24 years on the high court. . . . Earlier in the four-day conference, business experts slammed public schools for being outperformed by education systems in foreign nations and for failing to put enough emphasis on math and science and technical fields. . . . O'Connor said civics education must be a high school requirement. In Michigan, civics for many years was the only mandated high school course and remains a requirement under the statewide high school curriculum adopted by the Legislature last year. . . . O'Connor said she is working with Arizona State University and Georgetown University to develop an online course about the judicial system for seventh-, eighth- and ninth-graders, saying schools must make government education interactive, rather than just relying on "dull textbooks."


TENNESSEE  

Couple loses 8-year-old to Chinese birth parents
Lawyer for
Memphis family says girl knows 'she is being ripped inside out'
© 2007 WorldNetDaily.com

7-23-07 -- A grieving Memphis couple has given up on its seven-year custody battle over a foster daughter after the Tennessee Supreme Court ordered the girl must be returned to her biological parents in China. . . . Larry Parrish, a lawyer for Jerry and Louise Baker, said in a statement the couple would not make themselves available to the media. But he said the family has concluded any further attempts to keep the 8-year-old girl they've called Anna Mae in their home would be futile. . . . "It has been soberly concluded by the Bakers that Anna has been forced by a defective system to suffer the wrongs the system has dealt her and that further delaying the execution of what she must now suffer cannot be expected to help," Parrish said Tuesday. . . . "Analogies to illustrate how the Bakers are can be drawn from your own imagination," he continued. "They are grieving with a grief that is as deep as any that any person could possibly conceive. They never will be able to heal, but they must start on the path of healing. The grief being experienced by Mr. and Mrs. Baker, probably, is not as deep and hurtful as the grief being experienced by Anna's little sister, Aimee. Likewise, the quantity and quality of the grief of Anna's older sisters and brother and her grandparents and cousins is hard to comprehend."


MASSACHUSETTS

Family Attorney Blows the Whistle on State Child Protective Services Agencies

By Bill Hahn

ARTICLE SYNOPSIS:

7-11-07 -- Practicing family attorney Gregory Hession confirms child protective service agencies engage in abusive, deliberate and dirty tricks motivated by federal funding.

Follow this link to the original source: "Families Separated by the State"

COMMENTARY:

Every year thousands of families are forcibly separated from their children based on unsubstantiated or outright false allegations of child abuse. Gregory Hession, a practicing constitutional and family law attorney in Mass., says that for these families, the nightmare has only begun. . . . Children in child protective services (CPS) have been abused, wounded, brain washed, drugged, adopted out and some have even died. Hession has represented hundreds of these families and has dedicated himself to exposing CPS abuses and reuniting loving, deserving families. He documents CPS abuses in the July 23, 2007, issue of The New American magazine. . . . Hession's articles highlight true stories of families who have been targeted by CPS agencies. All the families discussed are Hession's clients. . . . Hession writes that state CPS agencies continually yank children out of good, loving homes based on flimsy allegations of child abuse. He asserts that the child protection business generates so much money, and employs so many social workers, therapists, lawyers and other professionals, that it needs a steady flow of cases to keep all of these workers employed. In Mass., the cost of these state services totals into the billions of dollars, which the state can leverage to obtain prodigious quantities of federal reimbursement monies.


RHODE ISLAND  

Governor defends foster care system after initial review

7-7-07 -- Gov. Don Carcieri on Tuesday defended the state's foster care system, rebutting claims in a new federal lawsuit that children in state custody been abused, neglected and sent back to unsafe homes. . . . The lawsuit, filed last week by the state's child advocate against the governor and the Department of Children, Youth and Families, identifies 10 children who it says were mistreated in foster care. . . . The governor said he was briefed by DCYF officials about those 10 cases on Tuesday and was confident, after an initial review, that the department and its caseworkers acted appropriately.


RHODE ISLAND

Rights suit alleges DCYF failing state’s foster youths

By Edward Fitzpatrick and Mark Arsenault, Journal Staff Writers

7-2-07 -- Children in state foster care are being neglected, molested, beaten, burned with cigarettes and, in one high-profile case, killed, according to a sweeping civil rights lawsuit filed in federal court by the state child advocate, backed by a national watchdog group. . . . Child Advocate Jametta O. Alston is pursuing class-action status on behalf of the 3,000 children now in state custody, aiming for nothing less than an overhaul of Rhode Island’s child-welfare system, which the suit portrays as overburdened and mismanaged. . . . “It’s beyond broken,” Alston said of the system. “It’s demolished. It doesn’t work.” . . . Rhode Island was the worst in the nation in the number of children abused and neglected while in state foster care in five of the six years between 2000 and 2005, according to the suit. “We beat Mississippi and Alabama,” Alston said. “Think about that.”


Cigarrest to Stop Smoking in 7 Days!


June 2007

GSAs: not as innocent as they may seem

Gay Straight Alliance promotes sex-toy workshop for youth.

6-26-07 -- The Gay Straight Alliance, which has clubs for homosexual and lesbian students on college, high school, and, now middle school campuses, this month promoted a “Pleasure Physiology and Sex Toys” workshop in its internet publication, GSA Network News. . . . The workshop, hosted by the San Francisco-based Center for Sex and Culture, was scheduled for June 14 at the Pacific Center in Berkeley. The Center, said the News, “will encourage your personal sexual exploration in this fun, informative workshop. Join us for a discussion on pleasure physiology and sexual response, and learn how to choose and use sex toys safely.” . . . The workshop, the News, “is for youth 14 and over,” but those “under 18 need permission from a parent/guardian to attend.” Further, “this event is also free free free @ the Pacific Center,” said the News, “so come on down and invite a friend won't cha.” . . .The Center for Sex and Culture says its mission is “to provide non-judgmental, sex-positive sexuality education and support to diverse populations.” The Center says it is “not the only organization trying to effect sex-positive cultural change,” but, unlike other organizations that do “sexuality education,” the Center wants “to make ourselves available to the widest range of people we can, with classes that run the gamut from informational to experiential.”


Child Protection Cases Plagued By Source Misattribution Errors

2/3 of all Reports are Unfounded!

by Dean Tong, MSc., NewsWithViews.com

6-26-07 -- With the number of child abuse dispositive reports hovering around the unfounded mark of 67% (Child Maltreatment 2005 data), let us examine what are known as source misattribution errors. Such errors surface in alleged cases of sexual abuse where children have difficulty discerning whether their own memories, or another person's repeated questioning of the same, are the real source of their information. . . . Other examples of source misattribution errors are: . . . * Four year-old Amber told a social worker her daddy put his pee pee on top of her pee pee. What Amber meant was that her father urinated on top of her urine in the commode she forgot to flush. Sadly, Amber's father was arrested in Florida for lewd and lascivious behavior - a second degree felony. . . . * Five year-old African-American Isiah went to the Emergency Room at a hospital in Atlanta and presented to doctors there with what looked like fresh bruises all over his face. Only after the Department of Family And Children's Services (DFACS) removed Isiah into their custody did an independent medical expert opine the child suffered from Mongolian Warts or Spots [Read] . . . * Fifteen month-old Logan was found semi-conscious in his home next to his mother's paramour, who was babysitting at the time for the child. When paramedics arrived and transported the child to the local hospital they found he had hit his head and suffered a seizure. After many tests were run, doctors opined the child suffered a subdural hematoma, bilateral retainal hemorrhages, and multiple bone fratures - classic signs of Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS). They called Children & Youth and the Authorities and the boyfriend was arrested at the hospital. In the end, it was found by independent experts that the child suffered from a genetic disorder known as Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI). The State dismissed all charges against the alleged perpetrator.


Survey: parents say they control kids' media use, worry anyway

By Ashley Matthews, (AXcess News)

6-21-07 -- Parents say they are in control of their children's exposure to indecency in the media, according to a national survey released Tuesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation. . . . But the national study found that a large portion of parents remain concerned about inappropriate media content. . . . Two-thirds of parents say they keep an eye on their children's media use. The percentage of parents concerned about their children's exposure to sex, violence and adult language has dropped since Kaiser's first national survey in 1998. . . . Most parents think inappropriate media will affect other people's children. Only 20 percent thought their kids were seeing a lot of indecent material. . . . Victor Strasburger, communications chair for the American Academy of Pediatrics, said parents were victims of the "third-person effect." This causes parents to believe the media affects "everyone but themselves." He said the effect happens to everyone. . . . "Parents are fooling themselves," Strasburger said. "Of course if you ask parents, ‘Are you doing a good job in regulating the media that your kid sees?' they're going to say yes." . . . Devices like the V-chip aid parents in monitoring what their


Military kids bear their own scars at camp

By Andrea Stone - USA Today
6-21-07 -- Twilight fell over the mountain camp as the group formed a circle to trade war stories: the nightmares of battle that wake them in their sleep. The fighting. The pain. The surgeries. And always, the sudden mood swings. . . . “Sometimes, we feel like we have to run away,” Alex Cox says. . . . “The military’s stupid!” Adam Briggs declares. . . . Alex, 13, and Adam, 12, have never been to war, but are no strangers to the ravages it can inflict. Their fathers were injured in Iraq. Like the 13 other boys and girls ages 7 to 14 at an unusual summer camp this week for children of injured troops, they belong to a generation indelibly marked by war. . . . Nearly 19,000 U.S. children have had a parent injured in the military since Sept. 11, 2001, the Pentagon says. They are lucky compared with the 2,200 kids whose parents have been killed in Afghanistan or Iraq. But as the U.S. approaches its sixth year at war, the impact of battlefield injuries and frequent deployments on troops’ families — not just the troops themselves — is increasingly clear.


Lillian Vernon Online


SOUTH CAROLINA

Court-appointed advocate for children faces charge

By Nita Birmingham, The Post and Courier

6-11-07 -- A court-appointed child advocate has been arrested for what police said was sexually inappropriate behavior and language toward a 17-year-old girl he was representing. . . . Roy Eugene Cantrell, 62, of Goose Creek is also a private investigator under the business name Cantrell Investigations. . . . Goose Creek police arrested him Wednesday on a charge of assault with intent to commit criminal sexual conduct. He was released from jail on a $50,000 personal recognizance bond.


WASHINGTON

Child's Statements to CPS "Testimonial,"
Washington Court Holds

Child Abuse Law

6-11-07 -- A child's allegations of sexual molestation to a case worker from Child Protective Services were testimonial, the Washington Court of Appeals has held. That means the trial court violated the defendant's right to confront witnesses against him when it admitted those statements at a trial at which the child did not testify. The case is State v. Hopkins, 154 P.3d 250 (Wn.App. 3/6/07). . . . Hopkins was convicted of first-degree child rape and first-degree child molestation. The complainant, MH, his girlfriend's daughter, was 2 ½ years old at the time of the alleged crimes and 3 ½ at the time of trial. . . . The parties agreed that MH was incompetent to testify because of her youth. The trial court did not conduct a competency hearing or expressly find her incompetent. . . . The court did conduct a hearing, under Washington's child hearsay statute, RCW 9A.44.120, on the admissibility of MH's statements to her mother, her mother's mother, and a CPS social worker, Patricia Mahaulu-Stephens. All three of those adults testified at the hearing; MH did not. The court found MH's statements to all three admissible. . . . Mahaulu-Stephens had interviewed MH twice. The first time, according to undisputed findings of fact, was to perform "a safety check ... unrelated to any potential criminal prosecution of Hopkins." The second time, the appeals court observed, was "for a CPS investigation because of new disclosures. [This visit] had the potential to lead to criminal prosecution of Hopkins." Only statements MH made in the second interview were admitted at trial.


FEDERAL COURTS

Test Case Linking Vaccines and Autism Reaches Federal Court

Tony Mauro, Legal Times

6-6-07 -- The family stories are remarkably, painfully, similar. . . . They begin begin with toddlers developing well, and happily. Then they are taken to the doctor's office for routine vaccines which, in the early 1990s, often were bundled together. . . . A week after the shots, the devastation begins: loss of speech and eye contact, high fever, constant pain, screaming, bowel problems, no sleep. The children no longer respond to their names; later, they are diagnosed with autism or related disorders. . . . "Words alone cannot explain the trauma of watching your only child's health deteriorate to such a degree before your eyes," Theresa Cedillo of Arizona writes in an e-mail to Legal Times. . . . On June 11, the case of Michelle Cedillo, Theresa's daughter, goes before an extraordinary tribunal assembled by the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. Its goal is to determine, for the first time in a judicial proceeding, whether the combination of certain vaccines and thimerosal, a mercury-based vaccine preservative, can cause autism -- a set of disorders that is gaining attention as more and more children are diagnosed, as many as one in 150 children born in the United States. The government has long denied such a link exists.


KANSAS  

Judge's decision stuns juror

Woman assumed man convicted in teen rape would get prison term

By Steve Fry, The Capital-Journal

Shawnee County District Court Judge Matthew Dowd wasted the time of 12 jurors who convicted a 38-year-old man of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl when he put him on probation, a juror said Friday. . . . And a grandmother of the girl on Friday blasted Dowd for granting probation in the case. . . . P. Bean was one of 12 jurors who found Orlando Paul Cisneros guilty of 17 counts of aggravated indecent liberties, criminal sodomy and rape. Bean and other jurors convicted Cisneros on Feb. 27 following a four-day trial. Following the trial, she assumed he was in prison. . . . Bean said she was "floored" when she read a news story on May 26 saying Cisneros had been placed on three years of intensive supervised probation.


Second judge not as lenient with sex offender

By Mike Hall, The Capital-Journal

A third case has come to light in which Shawnee County District Judge Matthew Dowd sentenced a sex offender to probation rather than prison. . . . In that case, the offender wasn't so fortunate a few months later when sentenced in Coffey County District Court for a similar crime. . . . In February, Dowd placed Nicholas Lee Crites, 28, on probation after he was convicted of having sex with a 15-year-old girl. . . . But Coffey County District Judge Phillip R. Fromme in May ordered Crites to serve 54 months in prison for having sex with a different 15-year-old girl in Coffey County. The two incidents took place 20 days apart in April 2006.


May 2007

VIRGINIA

Finally, some family time

He saw her once, in the hospital nursery. Now 23, she's tracked him down and is going to meet the father she never knew.

5-18-07 -- Nearly 24 years ago in a hospital nursery, James Howard saw his baby daughter for the first and last time. . . . Until today, that is. . . . The long-absent father, who's now raising a family in New Berlin, and his determined daughter in Virginia, who's been trying to find him for years, are scheduled to meet face to face at Mitchell International Airport this afternoon. . . . Howard and his daughter, Patti Taylor, have been getting acquainted by daily e-mails - a concession to the partial hearing and speech losses she suffered in childhood - ever since first connecting by telephone on Good Friday. . . . "I now call it 'Great' Friday," said Howard, 46. . . . Both Howard, in an interview at his New Berlin home last week, and Taylor, in e-mailed answers to questions, said they were excited and - naturally - nervous about the reunion. Still, they both struck me as ecstatic about it, too. . . . "I felt lost without having a father figure all my life," Taylor said. "I told myself, regardless if he was a jerk or not a jerk, I wanted him to know how much I've done with my life and how I made it to college." . . . Howard sees this as his second chance. . . . "I wasn't there for her childhood," he said, "but I guarantee you I will be there for her adulthood." . . . Howard said he lived most of his youth in Virginia, "a free-spirited young man wanting to sow my wild oats." That he did, because Howard became a father - biologically, anyway - at 22. The couple, however, ended their six-month relationship before the baby was born. . . . Howard explained that "she didn't want me there and her family didn't want me there." He said the day he heard of his daughter's birth, he quietly slipped into the hospital, peeked at his baby girl in her hospital bassinette, and then cried his eyes out in the waiting room before leaving. . . . Taylor's mother, Debra Williams of Pembroke, Va., said in a telephone interview that "he just disappeared" and she never tried to track him down for child support, figuring if he didn't want to be in his daughter's life, she didn't want him in hers. She says she's glad her daughter is getting to know her father.



NEVADA

Nevada's Foster Children Have Rights, Federal Judge Rules
Colleen McCarty, Investigative Reporter

5-15-07 -- Children stuck in the foster care system have won a victory in their rights. Foster children will now be appointed a legal advocate to represent their rights and wants in court. . . . A federal judge has ruled Nevada's foster children have enforceable rights under the law. . . . Among the issues upheld by the judge's ruling is the right for foster parents to be heard in court and for families to receive timely written case plans. . . . Bill Grimm, with the National Center for Youth Law, said, "This is a very good day for foster children in Clark County. This is the best day they've had since we filed the lawsuit in August, quite frankly. This is a federal judge saying today, Clark County and the state, you are accountable to those children." . . . The order written by Judge Robert Jones green-lights a lawsuit filed on behalf of children who were injured or killed while in foster care. . . . The child advocacy group that filed the suit seeks to reform Nevada's child welfare system through court intervention.


ARIZONA  

Outrageous Fortune

Private lawyers in Maricopa County child-dependency cases are soaking us for unbelievable bucks

By Paul Rubin 

5-10-07 -The lawyers are scurrying inside the Juvenile Court building in Mesa on a recent morning like shoppers on a last-minute run. . . . They move from the appointment counter toward their courtrooms, lugging briefcases and working BlackBerries, faces scrunched up in multitasking concentration. . . . Small groups are milling outside the eight courtrooms, waiting for the start of delinquency and dependency hearings to which they're connected, most often as participants. . . . The delinquency hearings concern children under age 18 who are accused of breaking the law (though kids charged with serious crimes can be transferred under Arizona law to adult court). . . . Dependency court focuses on children reportedly abused or neglected by their parents or guardians to the extent that state child-protection officials or others have recommended legal intervention. . . . Those cases typically involve parents who run the gamut of the simply pathetic (druggies who don't know up from down) to the malevolent, and children badly in need of a fresh start, with or without their birth parents. . . . One of the lawyers, a middle-aged woman in a flowing purple dress, bellows the name of her client. . . . "That's me," says a diminutive woman with stringy blond hair, rising from her hard, plastic chair to shake her new attorney's hand. . . . "Hi," the lawyer says. "I didn't know if you were going to make it. I've been trying to call you. Good. Let's go talk somewhere real quick."


NEW JERSEY

Court to decides child's country

Appellate Court Opinion McKinnon v. McKinnon


TENNESSEE

Caught in the Middle: Bitter Custody Battle Tears at the Heart

Her Foster Parents Say Custody Battle Is Causing Nervous Breakdown in Child

By Jim Avila and Teri Whitcraft, ABC News Law & Justice Unit

5-4-07 -- One of the most bitter, heartbreaking child custody battles in recent memory has reached a fever pitch in a courtroom in Tennessee. At stake is the future of 8-year-old Anna Mae He -- raised since she was 3 weeks old by Jerry and Louise Baker of Memphis, Tenn. . . . The Bakers say a court order returning Anna Mae to her biological parents is tearing the child apart -- and may even cause her to have a nervous breakdown. In a dramatic, last-ditch bid to retain custody, they've filed emergency motions with the court, along with a journal kept by Louise Baker that describes, in heart-wrenching detail, how the little girl with the almond eyes is spinning dangerously out of control. . . . "Our sweet loving little girl is full of anger and hatred," Baker writes in the journal. "She is always crying and yelling that nobody understands her." . . . The court filing contains a drawing by Anna Mae showing dead flowers and a wolf. "My favorite color... is black,'' she writes, according to court papers obtained by ABC News' Law & Justice Unit. "This color makes me feel like a wolf." . . . The attorney for Jack and Casey He, Anna Mae's biological parents, said the filing is a desperate attempt by the Bakers to avoid giving Anna Mae back. "I think the Bakers are going to do everything they can to sabotage this reunification," said attorney David Siegel. "If the Bakers truly love this child, they will put down their weapons and allow this transition to continue."

Anna's Biological Parents Speak Out



April 2007

Most States Fail to Protect the Legal Rights of Children in Foster Care, New Study Finds

Who makes the grade

The grades assigned by First Star, a Washington-based child advocacy group, in a report assessing state laws regarding legal representation for children in abuse and neglect proceedings:
A: Connecticut, Louisiana, Mississippi, New York, West Virginia.
B: Arizona, Arkansas, District of Columbia, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia.
C: California, Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, Wyoming.
D: Alabama, Iowa, Kentucky, Montana, Oregon, Wisconsin.
F: Alaska, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Washington.

PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Nearly half of U.S. states fail to provide legal representation for abused and neglected foster children, leaving them without a voice during judicial proceedings that profoundly impact their futures, a new study found. The peer-reviewed study:

A Child's Right to Counsel. First Star's National Report Card on Legal Representation for Children - was released today by First Star, a leading national child advocacy organization.

The first-of-its-kind study, released at a Congressional briefing on Capitol Hill, found "glaring anomalies" in how states protect the legal rights of foster children, leading to substandard levels of service and unacceptable outcomes in most states. Fifteen states received failing grades and six more received D's. Only five states received A's.

"Fragmented standards result in fractured lives," said Peter Samuelson, President and Founder of First Star. "These children are already vulnerable emotionally, and in many cases abused physically. The foster care system should protect their legal rights, provide the best possible care, and move them quickly to nurturing and permanent homes. When children enter the court system without appropriate legal representation, as is often the case, they are already at great disadvantage."

    First Star assembled leading national child welfare experts to establish guiding principles for a child's right to counsel and develop a grading system based on each principle. Each state's laws regarding representation for abused and neglected children were analyzed and the states were graded on a 100-point scale based on statutes, court rules, and practice. To view a copy of the report, visit http://www.firststar.org.


Free Our Kids

SHOCKING VIDEOS

Exposing the Child Abuse in Florida by the Department of Children and Families (DCF) and the Safe Children Coalition . . . Click Here to Contact your State Representative and your State Senators. . . . Ask them how they plan to fix the problem of DCF Child and Family abuse. . . . The People of Florida must demand a resolution to the DCF Child Abuse Problem.


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NEW JERSEY  

Local (ACLU) lawyer permanently disbarred for child-sex online chats

By Michaelangelo Conte, Journal Staff Writer

4-16-07 -- Chatting online about sex with someone he believed was a 12-year-old boy has earned a Jersey City lawyer permanent disbarment in New Jersey, officials said. . . . The disbarment is the result of a guilty plea by Steven C. Cunningham to one count of attempted endangerment of the welfare of a child, an act that “reflects adversely on his honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer,” according to the New Jersey Office of Attorney Ethics. . . . On three separate occasions between September and October 2004, Cunningham chatted online via his home computer in Jersey City with a person he believed to be a 12-year-old boy, officials said. In reality, it was an undercover Passaic County investigator. . . . During the sessions, Cunningham “described, in lurid detail, certain sexual acts that he hoped to perform on the boy,” court papers said. . . . “He also described sex acts that he hoped to teach the boy to perform on him, inviting the child to ‘get together in New York,’” according to the documents. . . . Cunningham pleaded guilty to the charges Dec. 13, 2005, and was sentenced to parole supervision for the rest of his life, court papers say.



VERMONT  

Judge David Howard Strikes Again

4-3-07 -- This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," April 2, 2007, that has been edited for clarity. . . . BILL O'REILLY, HOST: "Factor follow up" segment tonight. Vermont Judge David Howard strikes again. A few weeks back, he sentenced child molester Andrew James, **** to probation. James sexually assaulted a four-year-old. Boy, no jail time if you can believe it. . . . And now Howard has been removed from a case after freeing another sexual offender. It seems Howard represented convicted sex offender Arthur Mason. There he is right there. Howard was his lawyer on a '91 sex assault charge, but the judge never told the court this. Freed Mason without bail after the man violated his parole. We told you this Judge Howard was a bad guy. . . . Joining us now from Burlington, Vermont is Paul Beaudry, a radio talk show guy on True North Radio. . . . It just gets worse and worse and worse for the state of Vermont. I mean, how many more things have to happen before the folks mobilize against the corrupt system you have in place up there?


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TEXAS

'They broke his jaw, busted his eye'
Mother describes attacks on son in
Texas Youth Commission custody
By Jerome R. Corsi, © 2007 WorldNetDaily.com

4-2-07 -- Outraged parents are telling the Texas Legislature and others about abuses their children suffered within the Texas Youth Commission system, and Genger Galloway is leading the charge, telling how her son was forced to perform oral sex by female prison staff, sodomized by an older inmate in an incident arranged by a guard and suffered a broken jaw and concussions in physical attacks. . . . Galloway's story is about her son Joseph, now 19, who has been in the system for more than four years. He had been raped by a friend's older brother when he was eight, but his parents did not learn of the attack until he was 15, after he had started touching his siblings inappropriately, and they called for help. . . . "I reported this to the authorities thinking that they were going to get us some help," Galloway told WND. . . . As WND reported earlier, authorities including U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton and the Criminal Section of the civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice apparently were aware of the attacks going on with the Texas state juvenile prison system – but declined to get involved. A spokesman for the Texas Gov. Rick Perry now says the tragic situations are prompting a top-to-bottom review of the agency. . . . Galloway said authorities first responded to her family's plea for help by dispatching a sheriff's deputy to the Galloway home to take statements, and then the next day the children were interviewed at a safe house.


March 2007

NEW YORK

Kid-Welfare Big In 'Son Abuse' Shock

Torments, Beats Own Boy: Att'y

By Brad Hamilton & Janon Fisher

3-19-07 -- A city child-welfare supervisor allegedly has been brutalizing his own son, forcing him to kneel in a corner for five hours at a time to punish him for taking a gift from his mother, the boy's lawyers charge. . . . José Flete Sr., a manager who handles data tracking at the Administration for Children's Services, also shoved José Jr. against a wall and ripped his shirt when he came home with a new book bag that his mom bought him, the child's law guardian reported to Manhattan Family Court on Feb. 26. . . . The complaint said Flete previously beat the 11-year-old with a belt and forced him to wear soiled underwear. . . . "These incidents have heightened [the boy's] fear of his father," said the report, filed by Lawyers for Children, a state-funded firm assigned to protect the interests of kids in custody cases and which is representing José Jr.


ILLINOIS

District gags 14-year-olds after 'gay' indoctrination
'Confidentiality' promise requires students 'not to tell their parents'
By Bob Unruh, © 2007 WorldNetDaily.com

3-14-07 -- Officials at Deerfield High School in Deerfield, Ill., have ordered their 14-year-old freshman class into a "gay" indoctrination seminar, after having them sign a confidentiality agreement promising not to tell their parents. . . . "This is unbelievable," said Matt Barber, policy director for cultural issues for Concerned Women for America. "It's not enough that students at Deerfield High are being exposed to improper and offensive material relative to unhealthy and high-risk homosexual behavior, but they've essentially been told by teachers to lie to their parents about it." . . . In what CWA called a "shocking and brazen act of government abuse of parental rights," the school's officials required the 14-year-olds to attend a "Gay Straight Alliance Network" panel discussion led by "gay" and "lesbian" upperclassmen during a "freshman advisory" class which "secretively featured inappropriate discussions of a sexual nature in promotion of high-risk homosexual behaviors."


MASSACHUSETTS

Principal bans parents from pro-'gay' seminar
Public district students offered guidance on being homosexual

By Bob Unruh, © 2007 WorldNetDaily.com

3-14-07 -- Administrators at North Newton High School in Newton, Mass., have held a seminar for students that explained how to know they are homosexual, but banned parents from attending. . . . "It's absolutely insane," parent Brian Camenker, who also is chief of the Mass Resistance organization, said. "I met with the principal. She told me no parents are allowed. She said only by invitation. I asked, 'Can I be invited.' She said, 'No.'" . . . The event, called "ToBeGlad Day," was the school's "Transgender Bisexual Gay Lesbian Awareness Day," and students were given a pamphlet that explains what it means to be "gay," tells students how they are supposed to know if they are "gay," and responds to the question, "Will I ever have sex?"


MINNESOTA   

Judge OKs visits for twins’ mother
Ends visitation by jailed father
By Dan Nienaber, The Free Press

3-14-07 -- Visitation will continue for the mother but not the father of conjoined twins born at a Rochester hospital, according to a judge’s ruling filed Wednes-day in Blue Earth County. . . . Valerie Jean James, 19, and Robert Lee Heck III, 27, both of Mankato, are fighting Blue Earth County’s effort to end their parental rights. Both were charged in Olmsted County last week with assaulting one of their twin boys born conjoined in November, then immediately separated. The twins and an older daughter were taken from them in January, shortly after doctors reported one of the twins had 24 rib and leg fractures. . . . A motion was made Tuesday by Mark Lindahl, assistant Blue Earth County attorney, to also end the couple’s visitation sessions with the children during the civil process that’s started to end their parental rights. The couple has been allowed to have one-hour supervised visitations with the children three times a week since the children were placed in protective custody.


INDIANA

School district: Sixth graders had sex in class
Sandra Chapman/13 Investigates

3-8-07 -- For months it's been a well-kept secret. But now Warren Township Schools confirm a disturbing case of sex in the classroom. The illicit activity has parents concerned and a district at a loss for words. . . . Shop class gives students a chance to learn outside of the book. But at Warren Township's Raymond Park Middle School, two students engaged in illicit acts in view of goggled eyes. . . . 13 Investigates was tipped off by a disturbed resident who writes: . . . "...during school hours in a classroom with an experienced teacher present, two sixth graders completed the act of intercourse...at least ten students were witnesses. No disciplinary actions were taken against the teacher... All teachers were told to keep quiet." . . . Middle school students having sex in a busy classroom while a teacher is present? Warren Township Associate Superintendent Jeff Swensson confirmed it's true. It's been kept under wraps since November.


OHIO  

Incest law ruled valid in local case

By Shane Hoover, Repository Staff Writer

Sex between a stepparent and stepchild is illegal, even when it involves consenting adults, the Ohio Supreme Court said Wednesday. . . . The court made the ruling in the case of Paul D. Lowe, a former Stark County sheriff’s deputy. . . . Lowe’s 22-year-old stepdaughter accused him of having sex with her in March 2003 while she was passed out after a night of partying. He claimed the sex was consensual. . . . That Lowe, 42 at the time, admitted to having sex with his stepdaughter at all was enough to convict him of sexual battery, county prosecutors said. . . . Lowe pleaded no contest to the charge in 2004, and the judge stayed the sentence during the appeal process. Unless his conviction is overturned, he must serve 120 days in jail, spend three years on probation and register as a sexually oriented offender, the least restrictive of Ohio’s three sex-offender categories.

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COLORADO   

Teen Court needs you

Contributed by: Town of Parker

3-5-07 -- Have you heard about Parker's Teen Court program? This exciting program, now entering its third year, provides teens with an opportunity to get involved with the court system and earn community service hours. Teen Court is the only program of its kind in Douglas County, and was started in an effort to involve youth in Parker in the judicial process while offering appropriate sentencing for juvenile offenders. This community-based program was designed to be a positive experience for the first-time juvenile misdemeanor offender, as well as Court participants. . . . Since the program started, youth and adult volunteers in our community have committed more than 1,295 hours of service to Teen Court. The program has also been a positive force in the lives of more than 100 youth participants, by providing them with a second chance while holding them accountable for their behavior. . . . Currently the program is accepting teenagers who are interested in volunteering to serve as jurors, bailiffs and attorneys. To serve as a teen attorney for the program, you must be at least 14 years old. All other positions are open to youth 12 to 17 years old. The Town's prosecuting attorney will provide the necessary training to teen participants, including a mock trial. There are many benefits in participating in this program. Because teens are strongly influenced by their peers, a message is sent to offenders that their behavior will not be tolerated. Teens can use time volunteered in Court for mandatory community service hours for graduation, honor societies and on a job resume or college application.


MASSACHUSETTS   

A call for separation of school and state

By Jeff Jacoby, Globe Columnist

3-5-07 -- WHATEVER ELSE might be said about it, US District Judge Mark Wolf's decision in Parker v. Hurley is a model of clear English prose. . . . "The constitutional right of parents to raise their children does not include the right to restrict what a public school may teach their children," Wolf unambiguously wrote in dismissing a suit by two Lexington couples who objected to lessons the local elementary school was teaching their children. "Under the Constitution public schools are entitled to teach anything that is reasonably related to the goals of preparing students to become engaged and productive citizens in our democracy." . . . Entitled to teach anything. That means, the judge ruled, that parents have no authority to veto elements of a public-school curriculum they dislike. They have no right to be notified before those elements are presented in class. And the Constitution does not entitle them to opt their children out of such classes when the subject comes up.


GEORGIA

Ex-judge sentenced to 25 years in child molestation,
statutory rape case

The Macon Telegraph

Booking photo of
Jon Phillip Carr

3-2-07 -- A former municipal court judge was sentenced to 25 years in prison Friday night after a jury found him guilty of child molestation and statutory rape. . . . Jon Philip Carr, 53, of Milledgeville, was tried on five counts of child molestation and three counts of statutory rape. He was acquitted of one count of child molestation and one count of statutory rape. He also was sentenced to 15 years of probation and will have to register as a sex offender. . . . 'I think the jury speaking as the conscience of the community was making a loud and clear statement that nobody is above the law, not even a judge, prosecutor or lawyer,' Ocmulgee Circuit District Attorney Fred Bright said. . . . Carr's trial began Feb. 19, and attorneys finished closing arguments Friday morning. The jury took about seven hours to reach its verdict. . . . Authorities accused Carr of 'indecent' sexual activity with a 13-year-old girl and a 14-year-old girl in his Milledgeville law office. . . . Carr was a municipal court judge in Ivey, McIntyre and Irwinton and a solicitor for Milledgeville Municipal Court before resigning following his arrest on June 25, 2006.


February 2007

UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT

Parents Don't Need Lawyer for Child's Special Education
Needs, High Court Told

Mark Sherman, The Associated Press 

2-28-07 -- Parents should not be forced to hire a lawyer to sue public school districts over their children's special education needs, the lawyer for parents of an autistic child told the Supreme Court Tuesday. . . . "What we're advocating here is access to the courts," said Jean-Claude Andre, who represents Jeff and Sandee Winkelman, and their son, Jacob, in their fight against the Parma, Ohio school district. . . . Until now, most federal courts have said parents don't have the right to sue and, if they are not lawyers, cannot represent their children in lawsuits filed under the Individuals With Disabilities in Education Act, the main federal special education law. . . . The Winkelmans can't afford a lawyer or the cost of private schooling for 9-year-old Jacob. Neither parent is a lawyer.


OHIO  

Sex offender cut loose by visiting judge
Man, 62, was serving 5-year term for rape
T-F staff report

2-6-07 -- A visiting judge ordered a convicted rapist released early from his halfway house sentence of five years Monday. . . . After he was convicted of raping a 10-year-old Bucyrus girl, Robert McLaughlin, 62, was serving a five-year term for a rape conviction at the Mansfield Memorial Home although he could have been sentenced to 10 years in prison, but has various health issues. . . . He has been housed at the Crawford County Justice Center for the past 14 months while waiting for an appropriate placement, after he was arrested for walking away from the home, that was within 1,000 feet of a school, and was charged with a probation violation. . . . Visiting Judge Henry E. Shaw, Jr., made the decision to release McLaughlin. . . . "He just said he wanted to wash his hands of the case and ordered McLaughlin to be released to the streets. The judge's behavior was very bizarre," according to local foster parent Steve Stuckman.


CALIFORNIA

Lawmaker delays jail-for-spanking plan
Proposal would put parents who swat toddlers behind bars

© 2007 WorldNetDaily.com

2-3-07 -- A lawmaker's proposal that would have put parents who would place a careful swat on the bottom of their little one enthralled in pursuit of pleasure during the "Terrible Twos" behind bars has been delayed – several times – and opponents say they have reason to hope it will ultimately fail. . . . "This home-invasion bill has been stopped cold by parents and grandparents who know that to love children is to discipline them and show them the way to live," said Randy Thomasson, president of the Campaign for Children and Families, a non-profit, non-partisan pro-family group in California. . . . "Because so many people have spoken out, the Democrats in Sacramento realize that their liberal agenda is offending a whole lot of people." . . . He said Assemblywoman Sally Lieber, D-San Jose and the second-in-command in the California State Assembly, declined to introduce her bill yesterday, the last day to introduce bills this week. She also had failed to introduce it a week ago, despite published reports she would get the plan launched no later than this week. . . . "For two weeks, Lieber has publicly pushed to make spanking your own child under age 4 a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both. Now she's retreating, as evidenced by two published reports that she intended to introduce her no-spanking bill no later than today." Thomasson said. . . . In the Contra Costa Times, an editorial said the bill, "which she says she will introduce this week, is completely unenforceable. Are we to expect a 2-year-old to dial 911 and report a parent for swatting him or her on the behind?"


NEBRASKA

Law strengthens child-custody law

2-3-07 -- (AP) -- The Legislature gave final approval Thursday to a law that could keep an 8-year-old Nebraska girl from returning to her allegedly abusive father in Canada. . . . The new law strengthens Nebraska courts in child-custody cases. . . . The girl was being forced by Canadian courts to visit her father, who, her mother said, had molested the girl. Stories about the situation prompted lawmakers to pass the law in about a week. Gov. Dave Heineman signed the bill Thursday, so it will go into effect Friday. . . . The father has denied the abuse allegations, through his attorney.


January 2007

Sex assaults by teachers on students an 'epidemic'
Organization fights uphill battle in system that protects predators
Editor's note: At this link, WND has documented an alarming list of female teachers who have assaulted male students, part of the problem of teacher-on-student assaults estimated to include millions of victims.

By Bob Unruh, © 2007 WorldNetDaily.com

1-23-07--An estimated five million students in United States schools have been assaulted sexually by teachers, according to a congressional report. But no one is calling for investigations or law enforcement crackdowns, there have been no campaigns to ban the offenders from schools, and in many states there aren't even any requirements such predator attacks be reported to education licensing agencies. . . . "We have approximately five million children suffering and no one is calling for an investigation, for any kind of data to be collected to find out why that many children are being hurt by teachers," said Terri Miller, who runs probably the only organization in the nation that focuses specifically on assaults by educators on students. "This is an epidemic." . . . In fact, in many cases, especially where the attacker is a woman and the student a male, such assaults are treated as a joke, with a hand-slap for the teacher, and some ribald locker room humor directed at the student.  . . . WND has documented in recent months an alarming string of dozens of cases of female teacher-on-male student sexual assaults, but those are just part of the overall problem, Miller said.


Planned Parenthood access to public purse in jeopardy
Rapists protected when rules ignored –grounds for clinics to lose Title X money
By Bob Unruh, © 2007 WorldNetDaily.com

1-22-07  -- Al Capone, one of the biggest influences in the annals of American crime, was brought down by the paperwork requirements of the federal tax system. Now pro-life activists believe the nation's abortion industry could face a similar collapse, all because of the paper trail that they believe shows the industry has failed to follow the rules and file the proper reports. . . . "It's a simple audit function," Mark Crutcher, the chief of Life Dynamics, told WND. "All you have to do is go into a state … and look at Title X applications and service reports. Look for all the girls they provided treatment to – pregnancy tests, STD treatments, abortion or birth control. If they provided one of those services to a girl beneath the state's age of consent, that triggers a report." . . . "Then go to the … Department of Child Protective services (and look at reports). If those numbers don't match, you've got a violation," he said. . . . He said his research shows that the abortion industry "services" provided to underage girls across the nation outnumber the "reports" of suspicion of assault on a child by 11-1 – under the best of circumstances. "And most reports are not by providers; they're made by pediatricians and emergency room physicians," he said. . ..  So what's the big deal with the numbers aligning – or not? Money, money and more money. Millions, tens of millions, hundreds of millions of dollars. And the Title X funding mechanism for the nation's abortion industry that requires industry members to follow state laws, including those pesky reporting requirements – or lose the money. . . . Crutcher, in a Life Dynamics report, said the information about the reports comes from government sources, medical journals, independent researchers and the abortion industry itself.


MARYLAND   

Court upholds visitation rights for grandparents

Reported by Howard Bashman: "[W]e reverse the Court of Special Appeals in accordance with our holding that there must be a finding of either parental unfitness or exceptional circumstances demonstrating the current or future detriment to the child, absent visitation from his or her grandparents, as a prerequisite to application of the best interests analysis." The Court of Appeals of Maryland, that State's highest court, issued this grandparent visitation ruling last Friday.


TEXAS

After 13 years, Texas still refuses good health care to poor kids

San Antonio Express-News

1-17-07 --  In 1989, Congress made major improvements to Medicaid, which insures the nation's poorest kids. It ordered states to actively reach out to parents to educate them about the importance — and the availability — of preventive health care for their kids. . . . In addition to keeping the nation's most vulnerable citizens healthy, lawmakers were also looking to save money because it is far less expensive to prevent many maladies than to treat them. . . . But Texas officials refused to do much in this regard, so San Antonio attorney Susan Zinn sued in 1993 on behalf of 941,072 Medicaid-eligible children who didn't get medical checkups and 1,000,059 who didn't get dental services. . . . In 1996, state officials signed a consent decree promising to live up to the law. But it wasn't over for Zinn and co-counsel Jane Swanson. After state officials failed to keep their promises, the pair returned to the courts to compel them to do so. And the Texas attorney general opted to fight them at every step of the way.


Attorneys in abuse cases aren't supervised

Terri Langford, Houston Chronicle

1-16-07 --  At one time or another as many as six adults were in charge of A'Anya Edith Cantley's short life. But in the end, none could save the girl, who died violently in the middle of a November night. . . . Not her mother, Keeshaunar Michelle Cantley, now charged with the little girl's murder. Not the doctor who first questioned the burns and bruises on A'Anya's back and a broken right thumb when she was brought into an emergency room by Cantley's boyfriend, Carl Robinson, a month before. . . . Not the Harris County detective and other officers who befriended A'Anya in the emergency room, or the state caseworker assigned to check up on the toddler. . . . A'Anya's last hope, looking back at the events that resulted in her violent death Nov. 26, rested not so much with the often criticized Texas Child Protective Services and its stable of overworked social workers. . . . It rested with the court process that must evaluate whether a child removed from an abusive home situation can be safely returned. . . . Like thousands of children in Texas, A'Anya (pronounced ah-NIGH-ya) had a champion hired by taxpayers to represent her best interests in family court — a person known as an amicus attorney, or attorney ad litem. . . . But as is the case for many children under the age of 4, the attorney for A'Anya never met the 21-month-old and never talked to the officer or caseworker who interviewed A'Anya at the hospital.


WEST VIRGINIA   

Justices say minors can flee parents, choose where to live

By Steve Korris - Statehouse Bureau

1-21-07 -- To the astonishment of the nation, a Missouri man took a mother's son home and kept him there without anyone's permission. . . . A Maryland man did the same thing, but he did it with permission from two judges in West Virginia. . . . The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals endorsed this amazing situation, ruling Nov. 30 that two Jefferson County judges acted properly in sending a 15-year-old boy to Maryland to live with a friend of his sister. . . . Four of five Justices agreed that the passage of time rendered the case moot, but they delivered an opinion anyway. . . . They wanted everyone to understand that in West Virginia, children can flee their parents and live with anyone they like. . . . Justice Spike Maynard wrote in dissent that the decision undermines the authority of every parent in West Virginia. . . . He wrote that it allows strangers to gain custody and control of children.


KENTUCKY

Inspector Delivers Scathing Child Services Report

1-11-07 -- The Office of Inspector General in the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services issued a scathing report of a year-long investigation of child protective services in central Kentucky. . . . The 61-page report is a summary of the OIG investigation and lists several conclusions. . . . Several instances of false documentation and dishonesty by staff, including false signatures and omission or supplementation of case records, have been reported to the Hardin County, Ky., commonwealth’s attorney. . . . The OIG found several cases of unprofessional conduct by staff and supervisors. . . . According to the report, regional managers abused their power, neglected to follow the chain of command and stripped supervisors of their authority, including case review. . . . Some caseworkers exuded an attitude of superiority with clients and held birth parents to higher, often difficult-to-meet standards when determining whether to recommend a child’s parental rights be terminated, the report said. . . . "Kentucky law says reunify if possible, and if safe," Inspector General Robert J. Benvenuti III said. "As we point out in the report, some workers seem to see the end game as separate and terminate."


VERMONT  

Bargaining for justice

EDITORIAL Rutland Herald

1-11-07 -- The plea deal allowing a man accused of sexual assault on a 4-year-old boy to avoid serving time in prison raises questions about justice, punishment and the welfare of victims. . . . The case involved a Manchester man, Andrew James, accused of felony sexual assault on a child younger than 10 years old, which carries a penalty of up to life in prison and a $50,000 fine or both. But the prosecution in the case believed that the only way it could obtain a conviction in a jury trial was by forcing the 4-year-old victim to testify. Instead, it agreed to a plea deal that would secure a guilty plea in exchange for a sentence of 30 months to five years of jail time, all of it suspended. . . . The offender will be required to complete sex offender treatment and to register as a sex offender. If he fails to complete treatment to the satisfaction of his probation officer, he would have to serve his jail term. . . . The case calls to mind that of Mark Hulett, which gained national attention last year when Judge Edward Cashman sentenced Hulett to only two months in jail for sexual assault. Cashman did so because corrections policy would not have provided sex offender treatment for Hulett until the end of his jail term, and Cashman believed Hulett needed treatment sooner rather than later. Getting him out of jail sooner was the only way to achieve that end.


ARIZONA  

Group lauds judge for efforts on behalf of murdered children

By Jill Redhage, Tribune

1-8-07 -- During a memorial service in early December, friends and family members of homicide victims gathered to hang ornaments that symbolized their loved ones lost. They displayed slides and photographs of their departed and performed a rose ceremony. . . . Then, organizers called forward Judge Ron Reinstein of Maricopa County Superior Court and presented him with a wooden-framed glass case. Inside was a pair of toddler-sized black patent leather shoes. Atop the case, a blue plaque read: “These empty shoes represent our loved ones who were taken violently from us, but also represent the shoes you have filled through your support of this organization.” . . . Parents of Murdered Children, a national organization for the family and friends of those who have died by violence, conceived the event. Members provide emotional support for one another and raise awareness of violent crime. . . . To recognize a champion of its cause, the Valley of the Sun chapter awarded Reinstein its “Empty Shoes Award.


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Judge's novel for teens draws on his early life under segregation

An inspiring kind of justice

By David Mehegan, Globe Staff

Books aplenty have come from the pens of sitting judges: legal tomes, histories, memoirs, moral or political treatises. But few have been novels, and perhaps no judge before has written a novel for teenagers. . . . Julian Houston, 61, has for 15 years been associate justice of Middlesex Superior Court, and before that he was judge of Roxbury District Court. In his long Massachusetts career, which began when he came to Boston University in 1962, he has been an activist on behalf of youth in New York and Boston, trustee of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and founder of the Justice George Lewis Ruffin Society, dedicated to improving understanding between minorities and the criminal justice system. He is distinguished and respected, and with his wife, Susan (director of the Massachusetts Alliance for Economic Development), has raised two children.


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Woe to those who enact evil statutes, and to those who constantly record unjust decisions, so as to deprive the needy of justice, and to rob the poor of my people of their rights, in order that widows may be their spoil, and that they may plunder the orphans.
Isaiah 10: 1-2

 

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The scars left from the child's defeat in the fight against irrational authority are to be found at the bottom of every neurosis.
-- ERICH FROMM--

"When you put faith, hope and love together, you can raise positive kids in a negative world."
-- Zig Ziglar--

 


 

 



 

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