Tag Archives: Child Innocence

OPERATION MAVERICK ROUNDS UP MORE THAN 130 ARRESTS IN OK

.jpg photo of Law Enforcement prescence
Operation Maverick was a Joint Operation in Oklahoma City, OK.

Oklahoma City police part of joint operation leading to more than 130 arrests

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK  –  Law enforcement arrested more than 130 people as part of an 11-day operation in Oklahoma City.

The operation was organized by Operations North (Hefner and Springlake Crime Units), Operations South (Santa Fe and Southwest Crime Units), Special Operations, the United States Marshals Service, and the ATF.

The purpose of Operation Maverick was to have police work together to make the city safer and impact the violent crime rate by arresting the most violent gang members and criminal offenders victimizing the community.  Operation Maverick focused on fugitive investigations related to violent crime and proactive efforts in areas identified by the crime units.

Warrant arrests included charges such as Murder, Rape, Kidnapping, Armed Robbery, Shooting with Intent to Kill, Shooting into an Occupied Dwelling, Assault and Battery with a Deadly Weapon, Domestic Strangulation, Domestic Assault and Battery with a Deadly Weapon, Drive-By Shooting, Forcible Sodomy, Lewd Acts with a Child, Child Neglect, Burglary 1, Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle, Aggravated DUI, and Aggravated Attempted Eluding.

Proactive efforts led to arrests for charges that include Possession of a Firearm After a Former Conviction of a Felony, Trafficking Cocaine, Unlawful Possession of a Firearm, Possession of CDS with Intent, Possession of a Firearm in the Commission of a Felony, and Possession of a Firearm while Intoxicated. Members of several gangs were arrested as part of this operation as well.

During Operation Maverick, there were 134 arrests total, including 102 felony arrests and 32 misdemeanor arrests.

Items seized during the operation include:

  • 47 firearms
  • 3 stolen vehicles
  • 1049 grams of marijuana
  • 67 grams of cocaine
  • 19 grams of meth
  • 23 Ecstasy pills
  • 53 Lortab pills
  • 8 Xanax pills
  • $5,792.00 drug proceeds

MISSING WOMAN FOUND AFTER OVER 40 YEARS

.jpg photo of Texas Attorney General LogoAttorney General Paxton’s Cold Case and Missing Persons Unit Locates Woman who has Been Missing for Over 40 years, Shortly After Creating the Unit

AUSTIN, TX  –  In 1981, two deceased individuals, who were the apparent victims of a homicide, were discovered in a wooded area in Houston, Texas, and their identities could not be determined at that time.  In 2021, Identifinders International, through the use of genetic genealogy, was able to positively identify the bodies that were found in 1981 as Florida couple Tina Gail Linn Clouse and Harold Dean Clouse Jr.  The couple had an infant daughter named Holly who was not found with the remains of the Clouses.

The Linn and Clouse families have been searching for answers concerning the welfare of the Clouses and their daughter, Holly, since they were last heard from in 1980.  Last year, when the families learned that the two bodies found in Houston in 1981 were, in fact, Tina and Dean Clouse, the families began looking for answers as to what happened to Baby Holly and the circumstances surrounding the deaths of the Clouses.

Baby Holly has been located alive and well and is now 42 years of age.  Holly has been notified of the identities of her biological parents and has been in contact with her extended biological family and they hope to meet in person soon.

I am extremely proud of the exceptional work done by my office’s newly formed Cold Case and Missing Persons Unit.  My office diligently worked across state lines to uncover the mystery surrounding Holly’s disappearance.  We were successful in our efforts to locate her and reunite her with her biological family.”  Attorney General Paxton said.

Through the collaborative efforts of the Texas Attorney General’s Office Cold Case and Missing Persons Unit, the Lewisville Police Department, the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office in Florida, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.  This investigation highlights the hard work and collaboration of multiple law enforcement divisions across the country and demonstrates the importance of working cold case and missing persons investigations.

“At the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, we know that with advancements in technology and the hard work and dedication of law enforcement, we can get answers, even after four decades,” said John Bischoff, vice president of the Missing Children Division at NCMEC.  “We are thrilled that Holly will now have the chance to connect with her biological family who has been searching for her for so long. We hope that this is source of encouragement for other families who have missing loved ones and reminds us all to never give up.  NCMEC applauds the collaborative effort of the Texas Attorney General’s Office Cold Case and Missing Persons Unit, the Lewisville Police Department and all the assisting agencies who came together to make today’s news possible.”

“Finding Holly is a birthday present from heaven since we found her on Junior’s birthday.  I prayed for more than 40 years for answers and the Lord has revealed some of it… we have found Holly.”

“Thank you to all of the investigators for working so hard to find Holly.  I prayed for them day after day and that they would find Holly and she would be alright.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart to Mindy Montford.  We will be forever grateful,” said Donna Casasanta (Holly’s grandmother).

“It was so exciting to see Holly.  I was so happy to meet her for the first time.  It is such a blessing to be reassured that she is alright and has had a good life.  The whole family slept well last night.  The Hope for Holly Project was a success thanks to Mindy and her team,” said Cheryl Clouse (Holly’s aunt).

“After finally being able to reunite with Holly, I dreamed about her and my sister, Tina last night.  In my dream, Tina was laying on the floor rolling around and laughing and playing with Holly like I saw them do many times before when they lived with me prior to moving to Texas.  I believe Tina’s finally resting in peace knowing Holly is reuniting with her family. I personally am so relieved to know Holly is alive and well and was well cared for, but also torn up by it all. That baby was her life,” said Sherry Linn Green (Holly’s aunt).

“The very first thing that ran through my head when we heard Holly was found was the call that I got eight months ago from Allison about my sister’s death.  The juxtaposition of that call with Holly’s sudden discovery just popped into my head.  To go from hoping to find her to suddenly meeting her less than 8 months later – how miraculous is that?  All of the detectives involved ..They all expressed such fortitude to get to the bottom of this case..  They have the Linn family’s complete support,” said Les Linn (Holly’s uncle).

The investigation into the murders of Holly’s biological parents, Tina and Dean Clouse, is ongoing and, if anyone has information about their deaths, please contact the Texas Attorney General’s Cold Case and Missing Persons Unit at coldcaseunit@oag.texas.gov .

CHILDREN WERE FAIR GAME AT THE NH JUVENILE DETENTION CENTER PT-4

The state was supposed to rehabilitate them. Instead, hundreds of children were allegedly abused in N.H.

Updated April 22, 2022

MANCHESTER, NH  –  Jeffrey Buskey, accused by Meehan of repeatedly assaulting him, faces 25 counts of aggravated sexual assault.  Stephen Murphy was working as a clubhouse attendant for the Boston Red Sox in 2019 when he was charged with 26 counts of assault;  though prosecutors later dismissed those charges and brought a new indictment charging Murphy with 15 counts of aggravated sexual assault.  He is currently suspended from the organization pending the outcome of his case, a Red Sox spokeswoman said.

Attorneys for nine of those charged either declined comment or didn’t return messages left by the Globe.  Those representing Murphy and James Woodlock issued statements maintaining their clients’ innocence.  All 11 have pleaded not guilty.

In a statement, New Hampshire’s Department of Justice touted the breadth of its ongoing investigation, citing a growing team of prosecutors and investigators devoted solely to examining abuses at the detention center.

“At this point we expect that the investigation and prosecution of these crimes will continue for years,” said Attorney General John Formella.  “While so many have come forward, the reality is that we do not yet know the full extent of those who may have suffered as residents at YDC, and we may not know for some time.”

Today, though, former residents insist it’s impossible that facility administrators were unaware of the abuse.   Some say they reported it to supervisors during their time at the facility only to be brushed off.  When Meehan eventually went to police in February 2017, he says, the state trooper who arrived to speak with him was a former gym teacher at the detention center.

“One of the first things she said was she’d been waiting for us to come forward,” Meehan told the Globe.

Among those currently facing charges, meanwhile, is Bradley Asbury, who in 1994 was one of three supervisors fired from the Youth Detention Services Unit in Concord, where juveniles were held as their cases were being adjudicated.  In terminating Asbury, the state concluded that he’d demonstrated a “willful misuse” of his supervisory position, according to a defamation lawsuit Asbury later filed.

The following year, however, Asbury successfully appealed his firing and was reinstated, going on to become a union leader and staunch defender of staff accused of abusing residents.

“We don’t have time to abuse them,” he once told the Associated Press.

Just a few years after he was rehired by the state, prosecutors now allege, Asbury held a resident down while another counselor sodomized him.

The settlement plan currently being considered by New Hampshire lawmakers — which would cap payment at $1.5 million for sexual abuse victims and $150,000 for victims of physical assault — has also been a source of contention.  A pair of New Hampshire attorneys representing hundreds of the alleged victims — Rus Rilee and Dave Vicinanzo — say that without some changes, they will advise their clients against signing on.

“The state’s inability to unequivocally apologize for what they did to these kids and do everything they can to make them whole without retraumatizing them is inexcusable,” said Rilee, who along with wife and law partner, Laurie Rilee, has been working on the case since 2018.  “[It’s] unbecoming of the state.”

But money, say the alleged victims of YDC, has never been the point.

Stephen Hayward will be dead, he believes, before he ever sees a dime from the state.  He wants only for the world to know what happened.

Robert Boudreau, for his part, says there’s no amount that could ever make up for what’s been taken from him;  in his mind, justice would be served if he could watch the men who abused him stand before a judge and admit to the things he says they did.

And then there is Cody Belanger.

After emerging from the facility more than a decade ago, Belanger went to college, started a business, got married.  But he never forgot the sexual assault he endured during his brief time at YDC, an incident that left him sobbing on the floor of a facility bathroom.

In 2020, at the age of 25, Belanger was elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives.  Last year, after the passage of a state budget calling for the Sununu Center to shut its doors by next March, he was appointed to a committee tasked with devising a plan for closing the facility and determining how — or whether — to replace it.

Not long after, meanwhile, Belanger crossed paths with the governor at the State House in Concord.  A relatively new legislator, Belanger didn’t know Sununu well.  Still, he felt comfortable enough to levy a request.

When the facility finally comes down, he said, I want to be holding a sledgehammer.

CHILDREN WERE FAIR GAME AT THE NH JUVENILE DETENTION CENTER PT-3

The state was supposed to rehabilitate them. Instead, hundreds of children were allegedly abused in N.H.

Updated April 22, 2022

MANCHESTER, NH  –  When New Hampshire’s Division for Children, Youth, and Families, which oversees the YDC, announced in 2001 the findings of its investigation, officials cited five instances of abuse at the facility, primarily the result, they said, of excessive force used during physical restraint.  But the report wasn’t made public, nor were the names of the five employees who were implicated.

“My impression is this is a very small group of problem employees,” Ann Larney, an associate attorney general, told reporters at the time.

Still, the allegations kept coming.

In 2009 and 2010, the Disability Rights Center of New Hampshire, a nonprofit with federal authority to investigate instances of suspected abuse involving those with physical or emotional disabilities, conducted separate investigations into workers’ use of physical restraint on children.

The first investigation found that the facility’s failings “appeared to be systemic in nature” and raised questions about the capacity of DCYF and the attorney general’s office to handle allegations of institutional staff abuse and neglect.  The group highlighted a case in which a child was restrained during an incident that left “blood on the floor, desk and wall of his room.”  Although legally required to report the incident to the state’s child welfare agency, the report stated, officials at the facility failed to do so.

Today, those once charged with overseeing the facility have little interest in talking about it.

“I want nothing to do with this story,” said Laurie Lutz, who served as the head of New Hampshire’s child welfare agency in the 1990s, before hanging up on a reporter.

The Globe also sought comment from New Hampshire’s six former living governors.  Only Senator Jeanne Shaheen, who was governor from 1997 to 2003, and Senator Maggie Hassan, governor from from 2013 to 2017, responded.

In statements, spokespeople for Shaheen and Hassan said the senators were horrified by the abuse allegations and support efforts to help survivors seek justice;  both former governors, however, sidestepped questions about oversight of the facility during their administrations.

The few former employees who will discuss the facility say they don’t recall any reports of sexual abuse during their tenure — and insist that any resident complaints were dealt with adequately.

“In those types of facilities, there’s times that use-of-force is used, and more times than not they were appropriate,” said William Fenniman Jr., who served as director of the state’s Division for Juvenile Justice Services from 2007 to 2011.  “There were times they weren’t appropriate, but they were investigated every single time — and actions were taken if they needed to be taken.”

The legitimacy of those investigations, however, has been called into question.

In its 2010 investigation, the Disability Rights Center concluded that the state’s Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Ombudsman — responsible for investigating reports of mistreatment — “often did little investigation of his own, and often took staff’s word for truth over a resident’s report of an incident.”  The report also included complaints that facility staffers prevented residents from obtaining grievance forms and, in one case, restrained and dragged a boy to his room after seeing him submit a complaint.

Even as the resident population dwindled in recent years, issues persisted.

In 2013, the state was forced to defend its hiring practices after it came to light that a YDC counselor had a felony record.  Five years later, a third investigation by the DRC determined that staffers had used unlawful restraint when they fractured the shoulder blade of a 14-year-old boy, then failed to report the incident as required by law.

Upon the report’s completion, then-New Hampshire attorney general Gordon MacDonald and Department of Health and Human Services commissioner Jeffrey Meyers criticized the report for cherry-picking information, according to a news report at the time.

About a year later, however, MacDonald announced indictments for aggravated sexual assault against two former youth counselors and revealed his office had opened a wide-ranging investigation into allegations of physical and sexual abuse at the facility. MacDonald, now the chief justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court, declined through a spokeswoman to comment.  Meyers didn’t respond to an e-mail.

Many former residents have searched for peace in liquor bottles and needles.  They’ve cycled in and out of prison and rehab.  Their trauma has rippled outward, costing them jobs, shattering relationships.

In southern New Hampshire, Michaela Jancsy watches her children open presents on Christmas mornings and wonders why she feels nothing.

“When your mind figures out how to go numb to this stuff,” she says, “it’s hard to go un-numb.”

An hour west, Joseph Sheehan drinks too much and smokes too much.  In 2016, staffer Kirstie Bean was charged with sexually abusing him, and pleaded guilty two years later. Sheehan — who was just 15 at the time and being held at YDC for stealing a car — remembers getting fist bumps from male employees who viewed the abuse as sexual conquest.

Now 21, he struggles with anger and with intimacy.  He tells his girlfriend that he loves her, even as he wonders whether he’s capable of it.

“I’m supposed to just forget about it.  I can’t,” he says.  “How do you explain this to someone?”

Stephen Hayward is in his 70s now, with emphysema and a gravel voice, but he can still recall the details, 60 years on:  the black trench coat of the guard who would regularly expose himself to residents;  the shame he felt when a staffer entered his room one night and began fondling him.

He’d been a good kid when he entered the facility in the early 1960s, he says, a strong student with a certificate for perfect attendance and a dream of becoming a jet pilot.

He left shattered.

“You didn’t come out of that place a Christian,” he says now, a man with hard edges suddenly reduced to tears.  “How could you?”

In the five years since David Meehan first came forward about his years of alleged abuse at the hands of YDC staffers, authorities have begun to pay attention.

To date, 11 current or former YDC employees face more than 100 combined charges for acts committed against 20 alleged victims.

CHILDREN WERE FAIR GAME AT THE NH JUVENILE DETENTION CENTER PT-2

The state was supposed to rehabilitate them. Instead, hundreds of children were allegedly abused in N.H.

Updated April 22, 2022

MANCHESTER, NH  –  Even now, as one division of the state attorney general’s office works to investigate the hundreds of allegations, another department within the office has sought to discredit a victim’s accusations as it defends the state against civil claims.

“If you look at it today,” says David Meehan, a former YDC resident whose 2020 lawsuit helped bring the facility’s sordid history into public view, “we’re not that far really from where we were.”

They were among the state’s most vulnerable children.  They came from cities and small towns, from broken homes and shattered families.  By the time they arrived, some had already been subjected to a lifetime’s worth of abuse.

Violent youths, including the teens involved in the Pamela Smart case, were housed at YDC.  But for decades, many others were sent for minor offenses:  stealing or skipping school or because a parent had lost custody and there was nowhere else to put them. Once, in the 1970s, a judge reportedly ordered a 13-year-old girl to the facility because she declined to testify against a 30-year-old man charged with raping her.

When Meehan arrived at YDC in 1995, a scrawny and scared 14-year-old, he’d already heard the stories.  A runaway snatched up by police for a string of burglaries, Meehan was in the back of a sheriff’s car bound for the courthouse, he said in an interview, when the kid next to him — a return offender — told him about the beatings and rapes he said happened there.

It was about a year after his arrival, Meehan recalls, that a guard arrived in his room one day to conduct a contraband search.  At the man’s orders, he undressed.  As a result of the sexual assault that followed, Meehan alleges in a lawsuit, he contracted gonorrhea, for which he had to be treated at the facility’s infirmary.

The assault would be the start of a horrific two-year stretch of what Meehan says was sometimes daily abuse.

There were occasions, Meehan says now, when he would be raped by two different guards in the same day.  Once, Meehan says, he was forced to watch as a guard sexually assaulted a female resident (girls were housed separately at the facility).  Another time, he says, he was taken to the off-site apartment of a counselor who cocked a pistol, held it to Meehan’s head, and ordered the teen to perform oral sex on him.

Another resident, Robert Boudreau, 48 now, remembers acting out in order to get put into solitary confinement.  Being chained alone to a metal bed, he reasoned, was preferable to what he says awaited him in the front seat of a then-staffer’s car.

Michael Donovan, a self-proclaimed country kid, says he ended up at the facility in the late 1970s after his mother lost custody and a pair of local group homes were too full to take him.  He was raped by staffers on seven or eight occasions in the weeks before his uncle — the only person he would tell about the abuse — managed to get him out, he says.

During nights at the facility, Donovan says now, “you just hoped it wasn’t your turn that night.”

The first time guards came for Michael Gilpatrick, not long after a runaway attempt, he figured he was going to get written up.  But this time, the boy, housed in the facility’s East Cottage in the late 1990s, was taken into a stairwell, where two guards held him down while two others raped him, he alleges.

Like many others, he kept his mouth shut — even after the sexual abuse allegedly continued in the months and years that followed.

“Who do you go to?” says Gilpatrick.  “They have control over visits, [whether you’re allowed] to go on furlough, discipline. They were in charge of everything.

“They were like God.”

.jpg photo of Sununu Youth Services CenterThe youth detention center was built on a stretch of pastoral farmland in Manchester, a sprawling property abutting the winding ribbon of the Merrimack River with a working farm and a collection of fruit trees.

It was 1858, and New Hampshire officials, taking a cue from other states, set out to create a place where delinquent children could be housed separately from adult offenders — a pioneering notion at the time.  Their vision was grand:  Youth would be housed, fed, and rehabilitated before emerging, thankful and reformed, as productive citizens.

“[Children] shall look back to their sojourn here, not as to a place of degradation and punishment, but as to a kind and affectionate home,” US Representative T.M. Edwards said during the facility’s dedication ceremony.  “Not with feelings of shame and aversion, but with hearts filled with gratitude to the state for its parental interposition in their behalf in the hour of their extremest need.”

From the start, however, rehabilitation was often pursued with brutal force.

The facility was a haven of cruelty. One early punishment, known as the “water cure,” involved staffers spraying cold water into the face of a girl dressed only in her underwear, her hands held in restraints to prevent her from shielding herself, Governor Charles W. Tobey revealed in the 1930s.  Girls were forced to lie on a bed or a laundry basket as they were beaten as many as 250 times with rubber piping.

“[They] beat them so bad that the staff would have to have other staff come in because they were so tired from beating the kids,” says Gary Wall, a onetime intern at YDC who is writing a book about the facility’s first 100 years.

Tobey, for his part, minced no words in labeling the facility a place with “punitive methods savored of barbarism and the Dark Ages.”

But while the facility would undergo a variety of changes in the decades to come — alternate names, new buildings — its penchant for violence and abuse, former residents say, would remain deeply ingrained.

Visitors to the facility, too, recall disturbing scenes.

Pamela Kirby, who regularly visited her son at YDC when he was living there in the 1990s, told the Globe she watched a campus baseball game in which one player traversed the field in leg shackles.  Another parent, G. Michael Sanborn, whose foster son was a resident at YDC a few years later, recalled a visit to the facility in which he saw several children walk past without pants.

Unsettled, he inquired about the bizarre scene.

To dissuade runaway attempts, Sanborn says he was told, staff sometimes took the children’s clothing.

In 2000, the state’s child welfare agency — facing a growing list of accusations about abuse at the facility — launched an investigation.

Among the allegations were claims that children were locked in their rooms for weeks and months at a time, that a boy’s head had been repeatedly slammed into a pool table by a staffer, and that a resident had lost a fingertip after a staff member slammed his hand in a door.