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.
Police: Newport News man charged with
Child Abuse/Neglect after 6-year-old shot
Newport News, VA – A 30-year-old Newport News man was arrested Sunday after he was accused of treating his 6-year-old daughter’s gunshot wound with a first aid kit himself, police said.
Officers responded just before 8:30 p.m. Sunday to a residence in the 700 block of Waterfront Circle for a request to check on the welfare of a child, according to Master Police Officer Brandon Maynard.
There, police met with the child’s father, identified as 30-year-old Maurice Anthony Jones. While speaking with him, a woman entered the residence and appeared to be very upset, Maynard said.
The woman told officers a child had been shot inside the residence the afternoon of Feb. 26.
Jones told police his daughters were running around the house after they got home from school, and the 6-year-old accidentally knocked a handgun off the bed. The impact with the floor caused the gun to discharge a round, which struck Jones in the leg and then hit his daughter in her right leg, Maynard said.
Jones did not call 911 or take his daughter to the hospital, but treated his daughter’s wound with a first aid kit, Maynard said.
Police checked the girl’s leg and found a healing wound consistent with a gunshot wound. Jones also appeared to have a scar on his leg consistent with a gunshot wound, according to Maynard.
Officers seized the firearm from the residence and also located a marijuana grinder, plastic baggies and cigarillos on a table in the living room, according to Maynard. Jones said he had marijuana on him.
Child Protective Services was notified. The child was taken to a local hospital for medical treatment to the gunshot wound, according to Maynard.
Jones was arrested and charged with PWID marijuana, reckless handling of a firearm and child abuse/neglect causing serious injury.
AG Paxton’s Child Exploitation Unit Arrests Brown County Man for Possession of
AUSTIN, TX – Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced that the Child Exploitation Unit (CEU) of his office arrested Robert Odean Fry, 54, of Brownwood, yesterday on three counts of Possession of Child Pornography, a third-degree felony. Fry could face up to 10 years in prison per charge if convicted.
Following a CyberTipline report from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, CEU investigators executed a search warrant at Fry’s residence, where pornographic images of children were found on his cell phone.
Fry confessed to downloading and saving images to his phone, which was seized for further examination by the Digital Forensics Unit of the attorney general’s office. He was then booked in the Brown 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.
Florida Couple Charged With 700 Counts Of
Child Abuse Against 11 Children
FLORENCE, AL – A Florida couple was charged Wednesday with 700 counts of child abuse, sexual abuse and other crimes against 11 children they adopted or fostered for seven years while living in Alabama.
Florence Police detective Sgt. Brad Holmes told local media that 47-year-old Daniel W. Spurgeon faces 388 counts. His 52-year-old wife, Jenise Spurgeon, faces 312 counts.
Both are jailed in Fort Myers, Florida, where they have pleaded not guilty to child abuse charges. Jenise Spurgeon was arrested Wednesday on the Alabama warrants during a court hearing in Florida. Holmes said Daniel Spurgeon would be arrested on the Alabama warrants if he posts bail in Florida.
It’s unclear if either has a lawyer.
Holmes said police seek to have both of them returned to Alabama.
Florence police have been investigating since they were contacted last summer about crimes the couple committed in Cape Coral, Florida.
“Their investigation led detectives to believe that abuse had occurred in Alabama while the couple lives in the Florence area,” Holmes said.
He said suspected victims ranged in age from toddlers to teenagers. The couple moved to Florida in 2015. Police in Cape Coral began investigating them after they responded to a call regarding two intoxicated teenagers in summer 2016.
Daniel Spurgeon is charged with 115 counts of first-degree sex abuse, 122 counts of child abuse, four counts of first-degree sodomy, four counts of sexual torture, three counts of domestic violence by strangulation or suffocation, six counts of first-degree rape, 115 counts of enticing a child for immoral purposes, six counts of incest and 11 counts of first-degree human trafficking 2 counts of sexual abuse of a child under the age of 12.
Jenise Spurgeon is charged with 100 counts of child abuse, one count of domestic violence by strangulation or suffocation, 11 counts of first-degree human trafficking, 100 counts of endangering the welfare of a child and 100 counts of enticing a child for immoral purposes.
Holmes said Florence police have conducted extensive interviews, resulting in thousands of pages of documentation.
“We were very cautious not to rush to judgment, to be extremely thorough,” he said.