FBI Sex Trafficking Bust Recovers 168 Kids, Some Never Reported Missing
WASHINGTON — When FBI agents and police officers fanned out across the country last month in a weeklong effort to rescue child sex trafficking victims, they pulled minors as young as 11 from hotel rooms, truck stops and homes.
Among the 168 juveniles recovered was a population that child welfare advocates say especially concerns them: children who were never reported missing in the first place.
Advocates say the roundup reinforces the need for a standardized, nationwide approach to reporting children as missing, especially those absent from state foster care systems who are seen as most vulnerable to abuse.
Concerns over unaccounted-for children aren’t new, but they’re receiving fresh attention amid heightened awareness of child sex trafficking. State and federal efforts are under way to streamline how police are alerted when kids go missing.
“This has been a movement that I would say over the last year has really galvanized,” said John Ryan, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Legislation pending in Congress would require child welfare agencies to alert police and the center, which has specialized response teams and other resources, within 24 hours of a child’s disappearance.
The current patchwork of state and federal policies has yielded what advocates describe as a fractured safety net with little accountability.
Though states may have policies encouraging child welfare agencies to report missing children to law enforcement, most don’t have laws requiring that notification, according to the missing children center. That means children can disappear without police knowing they’re missing or being directed to look for them.
A federal law does require law enforcement agencies to enter missing children into the FBI’s National Crime Information Center — a database available to law enforcement nationwide — but that presumes police are provided the names or have enough specific details about a child.
A 2011 Government Accountability Office report said law enforcement agencies are having trouble getting timely information from state agencies.
Some children who are feared missing turn up after just a few hours. In some cases, children involved in sex trafficking leave their homes to meet their pimps for work and then return before their absence is noticed. The center worries about them as well.
The missing children center says it received more than 57,000 missing-child reports between 2009 and 2013. The organization says two-thirds of the children reported missing last year who likely were sex trafficking victims were in the care of child welfare systems when they ran away.
The difficulties aren’t limited to foster care. In the most recent action, called Operation Cross Country, far more children came from single-family homes than from families under state supervision, the FBI said. But experts say they’re concerned that children in foster care, who often come from more troubled backgrounds, are particularly vulnerable to being targeted by sex traffickers.
“These pimps really know how to appeal to these kids. A lot of these pimps come from similar backgrounds as well. They can lure them in by providing them care, feeding, attention,” Joseph Campbell, assistant director of the FBI’s criminal investigative division, said in an interview.
In a transient child welfare system, it’s a challenge for states to keep perfect track of children under their care. Many run away repeatedly but return on their own, giving guardians little incentive to report them missing each time. The Internet enables children to be prostituted through online advertisements instead of street corners, making it easier than ever for trafficking to cross state lines.
“When you come across a child and you have no information on who they are, it becomes difficult to, first of all, ID them — you don’t know if there are warrants for them or if there are medical needs for this child,” or if they’re supposed to be under state care, said Michael Osborn, chief of the FBI’s Violent Crimes Against Children unit.
About one-third of the kids rescued in the most recent Operation Cross Country had been reported missing, Osborn said. Some of the others hadn’t been gone for long enough to raise concerns from their guardians.
State policies vary.
The Minnesota Department of Human Services is issuing a bulletin to county agencies with instructions on reporting missing foster children to local law enforcement and the missing children center. It plans to propose legislation to that effect next year.
Nebraska urges foster guardians, instead of the state agency, to directly file missing children reports with police. The state says it monitors the situation and contacts police if the foster parent doesn’t.
A new Georgia law expands who can report a child as missing to include any caretaker or government entity responsible for the child, not just the parent or guardian.
Florida developed new policies following the 2000 disappearance of foster child Rilya Wilson, whose caseworker lied about visiting her while filing false reports and telling judges the girl was fine.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a sponsor of legislation that would require child welfare agencies to provide notification of missing children, said failure to do so is a “moral blot on our country.”
Wyden has previously introduced similar versions of the bill, but this year those provisions were folded into broader legislation that, among other things, would increase incentives for adoption and give money to states to encourage youth sports participation. Aides say the measure, which last week passed the House, has bipartisan support.
We Saw Nuns Kill Children: The Ghosts of St. Joseph’s Catholic Orphanage
It was a late summer afternoon, Sally Dale recalled, when the boy was thrown through the fourth-floor window.
“He kind of hit, and— ” she placed both hands palm-down before her. Her right hand slapped down on the left, rebounded up a little, then landed again.
For just a moment, the room was still. “Bounced?” one of the many lawyers present asked. “Well, I guess you’d call it — it was a bounce,” she replied. “And then he laid still.”
Sally, who was speaking under oath, tried to explain it. She started again. “The first thing I saw was looking up, hearing the crash of the window, and then him going down, but my eyes were still glued—.” She pointed up at where the broken window would have been and then she pointed at her own face and drew circles around it. “That habit thing, whatever it is, that they wear, stuck out like a sore thumb.”
A nun was standing at the window, Sally said. She straightened her arms out in front of her. “But her hands were like that.”
There were only two people in the yard, she said: Sally herself and a nun who was escorting her. In a tone that was still completely bewildered, she recalled asking, Sister?
Sister took hold of Sally’s ear, turned her around, and walked her back to the other side of the yard. The nun told her she had a vivid imagination. We are going to have to do something about you, child.
Sally figured the boy fell from the window in 1944 or so, because she was moving to the “big girls” dormitory that day. Girls usually moved when they were 6, though residents of St. Joseph’s Orphanage in Burlington, Vermont, did not always have a clear sense of their age — birthdays, like siblings and even names, being one of the many human attributes that were stripped from them when they passed through its doors. She recounted his fall in a deposition on Nov. 6, 1996, as part of a remarkable group of lawsuits that 28 former residents brought against the nuns, the diocese, and the social agency that oversaw the orphanage.
I watched the deposition — all 19 hours of grainy, scratchy videotape — more than two decades later. By that time sexual abuse scandals had ripped through the Catholic Church, shattering the silence that had for so long protected its secrets. It was easier for accusers in general to come forward, and easier for people to believe their stories, even if the stories sounded too awful to be true. Even if they had happened decades ago, when the accusers were only children. Even if the people they were accusing were pillars of the community.
But for all these revelations — including this month’s Pennsylvania grand jury report on how the church hid the crimes of hundreds of priests — a darker history, the one to which Sally’s story belongs, remains all but unknown. It is the history of unrelenting physical and psychological abuse of captive children. Across thousands of miles, across decades, the abuse took eerily similar forms: People who grew up in orphanages said they were made to kneel or stand for hours, sometimes with their arms straight out, sometimes holding their boots or some other item. They were forced to eat their own vomit. They were dangled upside down out windows, over wells, or in laundry chutes. Children were locked in cabinets, in closets, in attics, sometimes for days, sometimes so long they were forgotten. They were told their relatives didn’t want them, or they were permanently separated from their siblings. They were sexually abused. They were mutilated. They were dangled upside down out windows, over wells, or in laundry chutes.
Darkest of all, it is a history of children who entered orphanages but did not leave them alive.
From former residents of America’s Catholic orphanage system, I had heard stories about these deaths — that they were not natural or even accidents, but were instead the inevitable consequence of the nuns’ brutality. Sally herself described witnessing at least two incidents in which she said a child at St. Joseph’s died or was outright murdered.
It’s likely that more than 5 million Americans passed through orphanages in the 20th century alone. At its peak in the 1930s, the American orphanage system included more than 1,600 institutions, partly supported with public funding but usually run by religious orders, including the Catholic Church.
Outside the United States, the orphanage system and the wreckage it produced has undergone substantial official scrutiny over the last two decades. In Canada, the UK, Germany, Ireland, and Australia, multiple formal government inquiries have subpoenaed records, taken witness testimony, and found, time and again, that children consigned to orphanages — in many cases, Catholic orphanages — were victims of severe abuse. A 1998 UK government inquiry, citing “exceptional depravity” at four homes run by the Christian Brothers order in Australia, heard that a boy was the object of a competition between the brothers to see who could rape him 100 times.
The inquiries focused primarily on sexual abuse, not physical abuse or murder, but taken together, the reports showed almost limitless harm that was the result not just of individual cruelty but of systemic abuse.
In the United States, however, no such reckoning has taken place. Even today the stories of the orphanages are rarely told and barely heard, let alone recognized in any formal way by the government, the public, or the courts. The few times that orphanage abuse cases have been litigated in the US, the courts have remained, with a few exceptions, generally indifferent. Private settlements could be as little as a few thousand dollars. Government bodies have rarely pursued the allegations.
So in a journey that lasted four years, I went around the country, and even around the world, in search of the truth about this vast, unnarrated chapter of American experience. Eventually I focused on St. Joseph’s, where the former residents’ lawsuits had briefly forced the dark history into public view.
The former residents of St. Joseph’s told of being subjected to tortures — from the straightforwardly awful to the downright bizarre — that were occasionally administered as a special punishment but were often just a matter of course. Their tales were strikingly similar, each adding weight and credibility to the others. In these accounts, St. Joseph’s emerged as its own little universe, governed by a cruel logic, hidden behind brick walls just a few miles past the quaint streets of downtown Burlington.
When I first started looking, it seemed that all that remained of St. Joseph’s were deposition transcripts and the sharp, bitter memories of the few remaining survivors I was able to find. But over the course of years I found that there was far more to discover. More than the former residents themselves knew, and more than was uncovered during the 1990s legal battle. Through tens of thousands of pages of documents, some of them secret, as well as dozens of interviews, what I found at St. Joseph’s and other American orphanages was a vast and terrible matrix of corroboration.
The Diocese of Burlington, Vermont Catholic Charities, and the Sisters of Providence, the order of nuns who worked at St. Joseph’s, all chose not to speak with me about these allegations. At the end of my reporting, Monsignor John McDermott, of the Burlington Diocese, provided a brief statement: “Please know that the Diocese of Burlington treats allegations of child abuse seriously and procedures are in place for reporting to the proper authorities. While it cannot alter the past, the Diocese is doing everything it can to ensure children are protected.”
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Harvey Weinstein Scandal Inspires Creation of Website That Allows Victims of Entertainment Industry to Document Abuse
Harvey Weinstein Scandal Inspires Creation of Website That Allows Victims of Entertainment Industry to Document and Report Abuse
The recent revelations of the sexual abuse of mega elite Hollywood mogul and fundraiser for the chrony Clinton family, Harvey Weinstein, prove that Hollywood, the mainstream media, and even government officials will cover for or look the other way as sexual predators act out their sick fantasies in front of them.
As the NY Times reports, this sexual harassment did occur in front of everyone and no one said anything about it. He had an elaborate system reliant on the cooperation of others: Assistants often booked the meetings, arranged the hotel rooms and sometimes even delivered the talent, then disappeared, the actresses and employees recounted. They described how some of Mr. Weinstein's executives and assistants then found them agents and jobs or hushed actresses who were upset.
Even CNN got in on the action by bashing the person who they vehemently defended during the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton.
On Tuesday morning, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, the Democratic party's 2016 vice presidential nominee, sat down for an interview on CNN's "New Day." Asked about the allegations of sexual harassment against Harvey Weinstein, the deposed Hollywood mogul, Kaine said: "Any leader should condemn this. These allegations are low-life behavior."
By that definition, the last two Democratic presidents as well as the party's 2016 nominee are not leaders.
While this news should come as no surprise to those who've been paying attention to the claims of abuse inside Hollywood, the recent and negative exposure given to the Hollywood elite is helping to garner attention to this long depraved practice inside the terrifying world known as Tinseltown.
As the elite point fingers at one another over who should distance themselves further from this sexual predator, internet sensation Kim Dotcom took to Twitter to propose an actual solution.
Pointing out the horrid nature of the film industry and their lust for sexual abuse and even slavery, Dotcom began Tweeting his idea to solve this problem.
Dotcom's plan to expose the depraved ways of the elite is to have victims come forward and work for justice under the protection of an attorney.
To do this, Dotcom is asking for folks to build a secure website on which victims of the Hollywood elite can document their abuse and seek damages for their actions.
Making sure to let everyone know he was fully aware of the horror show that is Hollywood sex abuse, Dotcom retweeted a video of a Cory Feldman interview in which Feldman exposed the sadistic acts of Hollywood pedophiles.
While looking through the replies to his request for someone to build a website to document abuse, it appears that there are several people willing to accomplish this task. Now, the only hard part is getting the victims to come forward. When a victim comes forward, they are normally tarred and feathered in the mainstream media and made to look like fools. Even when their stories are corroborated by others, nothing happens to those responsible.
As the Free Thought Project reported last year, childhood star turned adult actor Elijah Wood, also claimed Hollywood is in the midst of a massive sexual abuse scandal, which can be compared to that of Jimmy Savile in Britain.
Wood came forward in an interview to blow the lid off the dark underground world of child acting in Hollywood.
In the interview with the Sunday Times, Wood dropped a bombshell, noting how child actors were regularly "preyed upon" by industry figures.
"Clearly something major was going on in Hollywood," said Wood. "It was all organized."
What Wood is talking about is the rampant sexual abuse of child actors, which has been previously exposed by Corey Feldman as well as Corey Haim.
In an episode of their reality TV show, The Two Coreys, a candid fight broke out during which Haim claimed Feldman stood by and watched as a person Feldman "still hangs out with" and is "best friends with" proceeded to "rape" the 14-year-old Haim.
"There are a lot of vipers in this industry, people who only have their own interests in mind," continued Elijah Wood in his interview. "There is a darkness in the underbelly - if you can imagine it, it's probably happened."
Wood says the abuse runs unchecked because the victims "can't speak as loudly as people in power."
"That's the tragedy of attempting to reveal what is happening to innocent people," he said. "They can be squashed but their lives have been irreparably damaged."
Wood is referring to the immense power of Hollywood elites to control the narrative and quash any allegations of abuse before they even happen.
This narrative is so controlled that after Wood made these comments, the very next day the mainstream media attacked him and forced him to downplay them.
Indeed, this control over the narrative is so strong, that the NY Times, the paper who just exposed Weinstein, could've done so over a decade ago - but chose not to.
On Sunday, reporter Sharon Waxman wrote a piece for The Wrap that said that the New York Times had quashed her investigation into Weinstein's sexual misconduct back in 2004.
In her original report, Waxman tracked down Fabrizio Lombardo, the head of Miramax Italy. She traveled to Italy and discovered that Lombardo knew nothing about filmmaking. He was reportedly being paid $400,000 in less than a year to "take care of Weinstein's women needs." At the time, Disney, the then-parent company of Miramax, told Waxman that they had no idea Lombardo existed.
The fact that Weinstein is getting exposed for his alleged past abuses is a major blow to the depravity taking place behind the silver screen. Americans would do wise, as Kim Dotcom has done, and let this instance shine a light into the darkness of Hollywood-instead of serving as a distraction from the rest of the atrocious crimes.