Round Rock Man Arrested by OAG’s
Child Exploitation Unit for Possession of
AUSTIN, TX – Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced that earlier this week the Child Exploitation Unit (CEU) of his office arrested Eric Christopher Lucas, 45, of Round Rock, on six counts of Possession of Child Pornography, a third-degree felony.
Lucas could face up to 10 years in prison per charge if convicted.
Two CyberTipline reports from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children alerted CEU that Lucas uploaded an image of child pornography, which prompted CEU investigators to execute a search warrant at Lucas’s home.
Investigators discovered pornographic images of children on his personal desktop computer.
Several electronics and digital storage devices were seized for examination by the Digital Forensics Unit of the attorney general’s office.
He was booked into the Williamson County Jail without incident.
The Texas Attorney General’s Office works to protect children by using the latest technology to track down some of the most profoundly evil predators online.
The CEU proactively seeks out and arrests predators who commit crimes against children using technology and online sources.
Attorney General Paxton urges all parents and teachers to become aware of the risks our children face on the internet and take steps to help ensure their children’s safety.
Oklahoma lawmaker arrested on
Child Prostitution charges
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – An Oklahoma state senator was booked Thursday on child prostitution charges for allegedly hiring a 17-year-old boy for sex, leading to calls for his resignation and a separate internal investigation into his years of work with a youth program.
Shortey was perhaps best known for introducing a bill in 2012 that would have banned the use of aborted human fetuses in food…
Ralph Shortey, a 35-year-old conservative Republican who has a wife and three young daughters, surrendered to authorities on charges of engaging in child prostitution, transporting a minor for prostitution and engaging in prostitution within 1,000 feet of a church. He was released after about two hours on a $100,000 bond.
“I have no comment at this time, but I will soon,” he told reporters outside of the jail.
Court records didn’t show if he had retained an attorney, and Shortey didn’t reply to texts and voicemails seeking comment.
The allegations led to Shortey’s removal from his volunteer position with the Oklahoma City YMCA’s Youth and Government program, in which he has been active for 17 years and served as a chaperone on several out-of-state trips, YMCA spokeswoman Brenda Bennett said. She said she was unaware of any allegations of wrongdoing involving Shortey’s work for the program, but that the agency is conducting an internal investigation due to the nature of the criminal case.
Acting on a tip from the teen’s father, police went to the Super 8 Hotel in the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore last week to check on the boy, who was seen going into a room with a man, according to a police report. The officers were told the boy had solicited sex through Craigslist on other occasions and had a history of drug abuse.
The officers smelled marijuana smoke coming from the room and found Shortey and the teen alone inside.
A search of the teen’s tablet uncovered a series of sexually explicit exchanges in which Shortey referred to the teen as “baby boy” and offered him cash in exchange for “sexual stuff,” according to a police report. The conversation had started with the teen messaging Shortey that he needed “money for spring break,” police wrote. Officers also found lotion and an open box of condoms inside backpacks in the room.
Shortey and the teen both told the officers that they had known each other for about a year, having met through Craigslist and later communicating via the messenger application Kik, which has been criticized as being unsafe for minors.
The age of consent in Oklahoma is 16, but Oklahoma’s child prostitution statute applies to any person under 18 years old. It’s unclear from the police report or charging documents if Shortey and the teen actually had sex. But prosecutor Susan Caswell said her office wouldn’t have to prove they did.
“Soliciting refers to offering money in exchange for sex,” Caswell said. “You don’t have to perform the act.”
The state Senate imposed sanctions Wednesday on Shortey, voting 43-0 for a resolution that accused him of “disorderly behavior” and stripped him of much of his power and many perks. After his arrest Thursday, Republican Gov. Mary Fallin and the chamber’s top Republican and Democrat called for Shortey’s immediate resignation, saying he couldn’t adequately serve his Oklahoma City district given the circumstances.
If he doesn’t resign, Shortey, who was a county coordinator and early supporter of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, could be expelled with a two-thirds vote, or 32 members in the 48-member body.
During his seven years in the state Senate, Shortey built a name for himself by pushing bills targeting those living in the country illegally and expanding gun rights. He routinely voted with his Republican colleagues on bills targeting gay and transgendered people, including a measure passed earlier this year that would allow business owners to discriminate against gay people.
“He was never vitriolic about it, but he would make the bad votes,” said Troy Stevenson, director of Freedom Oklahoma, a gay rights advocacy group.
Shortey faced fierce public criticism earlier this year when he sponsored a bill to stiffen the penalties for drug possession within 1,000 feet of a school or church, even after Oklahoma voters in November voted to make such crimes misdemeanors.
Before his arrest, Shortey was perhaps best known for introducing a bill in 2012 that would have banned the use of aborted human fetuses in food — a measure that drew widespread ridicule and was never granted a hearing in a Senate committee.
Bill clarifies statute of limitations for
Child Abuse cases
New Mexico – Many times, victims of childhood sex abuse don’t come forward about the abuse until they are adults, years after it happens. In fact, that happens very frequently.
Senate Bill 91 aims to help victims get through the legal process of holding their predators accountable.
“This is an epidemic,” said Levi Monagle, an attorney who has represented dozens of adults who were victimized as children. “One in five children will be sexually abused before the age of 18 and only 12 percent of that abuse is ever reported to authorities.”
Right now, New Mexico’s statute of limitations to allow a victim to hold his or her abuser accountable in civil court is vague. Sometimes victims are turned away by lawyers because New Mexico’s laws aren’t on their side.
“In our line of work, we have spoken to a lot of individuals who have been sexually abused as children and because of the statute of limitations did not have viable legal claims,” Monagle said.
SB 91 aims to add clarification. The victim would have three years after first telling a medical provider or licensed psychological professional about the abuse to file a legal claim.
“This costs the state nothing. This is a free fix for a serious problem,” Monagle said. “We have the opportunity with a bill like SB 91 to protect children and protect access to the courts in a very powerful way.”
The bill cleared a House committee Wednesday and now heads to the full House for a final vote. If passed, the governor can either veto or sign it into law.
Vermillion sees ‘huge increase’ in
Child Abuse, Neglect
Indiana – Vigo County isn’t the only Wabash Valley community with a high rate of abuse and neglect, according to a recent study.
In 2015, Vermillion County ranked 11th highest among Indiana’s 92 counties, with an abuse/neglect rate of nearly 36 per 1,000 children under age 18, according to the recently released Kids Count in Indiana 2017. The state average was about 17 children per 1,000 children.
Parke County ranked 50th among 92 counties, with an abuse/neglect rate of nearly 17 per 1,000 children.
“Vermillion has seen a huge increase … and definitely outpaced the rate of the state and Parke County,” said Katie Kincaid, one of the presenters during a seminar in Clinton hosted by the Indiana Youth Institute and Valley Professionals Community Health Center.
The seminar focused on youth issues in Vermillion and Parke counties. In 2010, Vermillion’s child abuse/neglect rate was 19.2 per 1,000 children; the 2015 rate represented a decline from 2014, when it was 43.8 per 1,000 children.
Kincaid asked the audience, which consisted of about 30 people who work for youth-serving agencies, about possible reasons for the high rate of abuse/neglect. “We see a lot of drug use,” said Andrea Williams, local office director for the Indiana Department of Child Services in Vermillion and Parke counties.
The drugs being abused include meth, heroin and prescription pills, according to audience members.
“I think you hit the nail on the head. Drugs are a big player here,” Kincaid said, not only in Vermillion County, but statewide.
When DCS removes a child from a home, it records the reason, and “in more and more cases, drugs and alcohol abuse on the part of the parents are being cited,” Kincaid said. In 2013, it accounted for less than a third of cases, while in 2016, it represented more than half of the cases.
Williams said drug use often tends to be generational, which creates challenges when trying to place a child with another family member; those family members — aunts, uncles or even grandparents — may have substance abuse issues as well.
“It continues to cycle through the family, making it difficult to find those stable care-givers who kids are familiar with,” Williams said.
Kincaid cited other parent risk factors for abuse, including lack of understanding of child development; stress; isolation; and personal history of abuse or neglect.
She noted that statewide, reports of neglect and abuse to DCS have increased from 155,867 in 2012 to 202,493 in 2015. While that likely is due in part to increased cases, “It can also reflect increased awareness and more people being aware of the fact they should report and how to report,” she said.
Anyone over age 18 in Indiana is a “mandatory reporter” if they “have reason to believe” a child is a victim of abuse or neglect, Kincaid said. Those reporting don’t need to “know for sure” or be able to prove it, she said. If they suspect abuse/neglect, they should call the DCS hotline at 1-800-800-5556 or text [SMS]: 741741.
Also, citizens or those reporting should not attempt to investigate, which is the job of the Department of Child Services. “It’s our role to report, and let DCS take it from there,” Kincaid said.
Broc Leslie, principal at Ernie Pyle Elementary, praised the DCS office for creating awareness and educating school personnel, and the public, about the reporting process. He also noted that local schools have hosted a program called Strengthening Families, offered by Hamilton Center.
Vigo County had the third highest child abuse/neglect rate among 92 counties, at nearly 42 per 1,000 children under age 18.
During the seminar, those attending also discussed data related to education, poverty, mental health and violent relationships.