Tag Archives: Indifference

NC Man Assaults Woman And Infant

.jpg photo of man accused of domestric violence and child abuse
Richard Combs, 29, of Summerfield NC

NC man charged with Child Abuse after infant found with fractured skull,
deputies say

SUMMERFIELD, NC  –  A man has been charged with child abuse after an infant was found with a skull fracture.

Richard Combs, 29, of Summerfield was arrested and charged with assault on a female and felony child abuse resulting in serious physical injury.

The Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office said a Triad area hospital reported the infant’s skull fracture.

The Rockingham County Department of Social Services Child Protective Services is also investigating.

Combs is in the Rockingham County Detention Facility under a $105,000 secured bond.

Child Predator Freed On Technicality

,jpg photo of Child Predator freed on technicality
Michael Tracy McFadden, 46, of Grand Junction CO, sentenced in 2015 to more than 300 years in prison for sexually abusing six children.

Child sex offender serving more than 300 years walks free on ‘technicality’

GRAND JUNCTION, CO  –  A Colorado man sentenced in 2015 to more than 300 years in prison for sexually abusing six children has been freed by a court decision, and prosecutors are barred from retrying him for the crimes.

Michael Tracy McFadden, 46, of Grand Junction, was not eligible for a parole hearing until November 2330, according to data from the Colorado Department of Corrections.  Instead, he walked free Tuesday from the Arkansas Valley Correctional Facility, where he was serving his sentence.

McFadden’s freedom follows a June ruling by the Colorado Court of Appeals, which found that his right to a speedy trial was violated when the judge in the case granted a continuance, KKCO in Grand Junction reported.  Prosecutors appealed that ruling, but the Colorado Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal.

“If you’ve heard the phrase, ‘He got off on a technicality,’ this is exactly that situation,” Mesa County District Attorney Dan Rubinstein told the news station.

McFadden cannot be retried on the charges and does not have to register as a sex offender, KKCO reported.  He had prior convictions for sex offenses, but that conviction was before the registry was established.

“I am completely appalled at this decision,” Rubinstein said.  “I think the criminal justice system completely failed here.”

McFadden was convicted at trial of 19 counts of child sex offenses, including a charge of being an habitual sex offender against children.  That history was part of what led to his release, Rubinstein explained.

McFadden’s defense team had submitted a jury questionnaire designed to determine whether trial jurors could be fair to their client considering his past, KKCO reported.  The judge in the case failed to read the questionnaire until prosecutors and defense lawyers were already halfway through the jury selection process.

The judge decided that McFadden couldn’t receive a fair trial under those circumstances, so he issued a continuance.  Even though McFadden’s lawyers had previously sought and received two continuances in the case, they objected to the third and asserted his statutory right to a speedy trial.

The appeals court ruled that he did not get his trial in time.  In Colorado, the statute for a speedy trial requires that it take place within six months.

“Because the error here was that he shouldn’t have been tried longer than six months from the last time he waived speedy trial, there was no remedy for that, and therefore there is no ability to retry him,” Rubinstein told the news station.

The prosecutor was not the only one upset over McFadden’s release.  Kathi Raley, a victim assistance coordinator at the DA’s office, told KREX that she has been in contact almost nonstop with distraught parents.

“Several voicemails from mothers of victims who legitimately are fearful for their children and their children’s safety,” Raley said.  “I can’t even imagine the terror that these kids are now feeling.”

McFadden was accused at trial of abusing a total of six young boys and girls.

People were also angry on social media, with at least one person hoping that “street justice” gets to McFadden before he finds a new victim.  Another Facebook user pointed out that he was not freed because he was not guilty of the crimes of which he was convicted.

Others posted his photo urging people to remember his face since he is not required to register as a sex offender.

“Please share.  He will eventually end up back in (Grand Junction),” one woman wrote.  “The more people who know, the safer our children will be.

“He is smooth, he is a predator and he offers young women held with housing and childcare, something many women are grateful to have,” she continued.  “I know it is an awful subject, but the chances of him reoffending are really high.”

Maine CPS Makes Sure It Is The Only Option

.jpg photo of a Child Abuse graphic
Just when we see some improvement in several states CPS program, we see this again.

Criticism raised over ending Child Abuse prevention program

Lewiston, Maine  –  The LePage administration is being criticized for its decision to end a statewide program aimed at preventing child abuse and neglect, even as Maine has witnessed its second horrific case of child abuse in three months.

State officials say the $2.2 million Community Partnerships for Protecting Children program duplicates other Maine prevention programs and is not evidence-based.

Maine Department of Health and Human Services officials surprised nonprofit leaders in a meeting a few weeks ago by saying the program that launched more than a decade ago would not be renewed, and did not give clear reasons why, said officials with Opportunity Alliance, the South Portland-based nonprofit that started the program.

  “It is our duty to the Maine taxpayers to ensure that programs we fund are not duplicative of one another,” DHHS spokeswoman Emily Spencer said Wednesday in an email response to questions from the Press Herald.

“Their money needs to be spent in the most effective and efficient ways possible.”

The decision by DHHS preceded the death Sunday of a 10-year-old girl in Stockton Springs, who authorities say died of battered child syndrome.  It came after a Wiscasset woman was charged with depraved indifference murder in connection with death Dec. 8 of a 4-year-old girl in her care.

Ken Kunin, superintendent of South Portland schools, which works closely with Opportunity Alliance on the program, said DHHS is “wrong” that the program is providing services available elsewhere.

“It doesn’t duplicate.  They offer direct help and support for families and communities,” Kunin said.  “It’s been a tremendous asset in South Portland. More kids attend school, are healthier and parents have really been connected to services.  It’s really been a tremendous program.”

Debra Dunlap, regional director of Community Partnerships for Protecting Children in southern Maine for Opportunity Alliance, said it makes no sense to eliminate prevention programs that can stop family problems from becoming acute.

“It would be like building hospitals with only emergency rooms,” Dunlap said.


In southern Maine, where the program has been established for about a decade, CPPC partners with about 60 groups,  including schools, nonprofits, law enforcement, local governments, churches and others to identify and help families at risk of abuse and neglect.

Opportunity Alliance officials argue the program has saved children from difficult circumstances, although they acknowledge that like many prevention programs, the benefits are difficult to measure.  Just two years ago, the state expanded the program to other communities, such as Bangor and Belfast, which makes the move to end the program all the more puzzling.

“The safety of kids in Maine is in jeopardy, and supportive services for families who need help will be vanishing,” said Mike Tarpinian, executive director of Opportunity Alliance.

Child abuse has been in the spotlight in Maine recently with some high-profile cases, most recently in Stockton Springs, where Sharon Carrillo, 33, and Julio Carrillo, 51, were charged in the beating death of Marissa Kennedy.  She was Sharon Carillo’s daughter and Julio Carrillo’s stepdaughter.

Police reported the 10-year-old received daily beatings from the Carrillos for months before dying on Sunday.  The Office of Chief Medical Examiner performed an autopsy and determined that Marissa died of battered child syndrome.

The Carrillos have been charged with murder, and made a court appearance in Belfast on Wednesday.

Neighbors from when the family lived in Bangor said they called police and Maine DHHS over concerns about child abuse, but it’s not clear why Marissa was allowed to continue to live with the Carillos.  The couple moved from Bangor to Stockton Springs last fall.

Tarpinian said it doesn’t make any sense to end a program that had been helping to reduce the number of abuse cases in the state over the past decade. In Cumberland County, where CPPC has been established the longest — for about a decade — substantiated cases of child abuse or neglect plummeted from 445 in 2008 to 261 in 2016, the most recent year available, despite DHHS launching more child abuse investigations during that decade.

Opportunity Alliance officials say because so many factors go into the trends, including state policies, cultural trends, overall declining crime numbers, demographics and other issues, it’s impossible to know exactly how much the prevention program helped.

“We know we played a really critical role,” Dunlap said.  “We know more kids are living safely with their families because of this program.”

By the numbers

Statewide, substantiated abuse and neglect cases dropped from 2,521 to 2,268 from 2008 to 2016, although most of the CPPC programs outside of Greater Portland are much more recent — starting after 2015.

The $800,000 per year state contract with Opportunity Alliance is slated to end Sept. 30, as are contracts with four other nonprofits, including Penquis in Bangor, Community Concepts in Augusta and Broadreach Family and Community Services in Belfast, either in September or this summer.

The state spends a total of $2.2 million per year on the prevention program, Tarpinian said, and a quality prevention program will save the state money as fewer children end up in crisis and need Child Protective Services and in foster care.  The state announced on Wednesday that it was operating with a $128 million surplus.

The CPPC program began as a pilot program in Portland by the Opportunity Alliance in the mid-2000s, and a comprehensive program launched in 2008 in South Portland’s Redbank Village and Brickhill apartments.  The program has since expanded to all of southern Maine, Lewiston, Augusta, Bangor and Belfast.

Spencer said the programs duplicated the state’s Child Abuse and Neglect Councils, which are entities created by the Maine Legislature to prevent child abuse and neglect.

“Maine’s (Child Abuse and Neglect) Councils serve the same families that the CPPCs were intended to serve,” Spencer said.

Dunlap said the Child Abuse and Neglect Councils do not have the resources to conduct community-based programs like CPPC does, and the programs do not duplicate each others.

Spencer said the program is not “evidence-based” and that there was also a question of funding.

“When originally established, DHHS believed that the CPPCs were an evidenced-based program,” Spencer said.  “Upon further research as we considered renewing and expanding, it has been determined that they are not evidenced based, but are seen as a method for engaging communities with the goal of preventing child abuse.

“This is the same goal of Maine’s statutorily established CAN Councils.”

‘Best that’s available’

But Dunlap said that CPPC, while not meeting the rigorous scientific standard of evidence-based, is the best that is available.  There are no community-based prevention programs that meet the evidence-based standard DHHS is seeking, she said.

“Every aspect of the model we are using is based on research that shows what families need to keep kids safe from abuse,” Dunlap said.

“It’s not a simple recipe where you can put the ingredients in and get a cake. How do you prove something that didn’t happen?”

It is difficult to count how many people are served by the community-based programs, Dunlap said, but in South Portland, at least 1,630 individuals are helped per year.

The community-based prevention programs provide many services and are difficult to explain, Dunlap said, but one example is the Neighborhood Resource Hub on Westbrook Street, between Redbank and Brickhill in South Portland.  The hub is a combination food pantry, and a place where people can connect to social services that they may not be aware of, such as signing up for federal heating assistance, Medicaid or Affordable Care Act insurance. Employers will post job listings looking for workers.

Becky Morse, a volunteer at the Neighborhood Resource Hub, said she has seen how the service benefits families.

“It’s a safe place, and it gives people a sense of security where people can go and get their questions answered, find out where to get help.  They can be instantly directed,” Morse said.

She said the food pantry is also a great resource to have within walking distance, as people can pick up bread and fresh vegetables.

Time To Protect Children, And Time To Pay For Past Abuse

.jpg photo of Siblings fighting for the Child Victims Act in NY
The 5 Browns to push for the Child Victims Act in Albany NY.

Utah victims say NY kid abuse laws too weak, join fight to enact Child Victims Act

ALBANY, NY  –  When the siblings making up the well-known classical piano ensemble The 5 Browns were looking into bringing sexual abuse charges against their father, they briefly considered New York before learning the state’s weak laws wouldn’t work.

The abuse — only some of which occurred in the state — took place just long enough before so that New York’s notoriously weak statute of limitations on child sex abuse expired.

So instead, they chose their home state in Utah, where their father and former manager, Keith Brown, ultimately pleaded guilty in 2011 to sexually abusing three of his daughters between 1990 and 1998.  He was ultimately sentenced to 10 years to life behind bars.

The experience is the reason why two of the siblings — Desirae and Deondra Brown — on Tuesday will be joining the fight in New York to pass the Child Victims Act that would make it easier for kid sex abuse victims to seek justice as adults.

The two women will take part with other survivors and advocates in a lobby day at the state Capitol Tuesday that will include a press conference.

“Once I realized how unfortunate the laws are here and how little recourse the children survivors have here, it just made sense for us to join the fight,” Desirae Brown, who currently lives in Manhattan and has two young children, said during a recent conference call with Deondra Brown and the Daily News.

“The biggest message is our personal story,” she said.  “If everything that happened to us happened in New York, we would not have our father in prison right now.”

Like many victims of sexual abuse, the Brown siblings didn’t come forward for years.  For a long time, each one didn’t even know that they had two other siblings going through the same horror with their father.

It took them 10 years before they sought any charges.  Some of the abuse took place when the five Brown siblings — there are two brothers — were all enrolled in The Julliard School in New York City from 2001 to 2006.

“We had looked into filing some charges in New York State early on,” Deondra Brown said.  “There was a possibility we could potentially have a case there with one of our sisters.”

But ultimately, after having discussions with New York law enforcement and prosecutors, they learned “we would have a much better option filing charges and having our father being held accountable in the state of Utah,” Deondra Brown, now 37 and still living in Utah, said.

“That was a real eye opener for us,” she said.  “We learned how different the statute of limitation laws were in different states.  As we started researching, we realized that New York was one of the worst states in the country for us.”
Desirae Brown, now 39 and living in Washington Heights, added that the statute of limitations in New York “had literally expired three months before we started investigating.”

Under state law, child sex abuse victims have until their 23rd birthday to bring charges against their attacker.  If the abuse took place in a public institution, like a school, it’s even harder to seek justice in civil court since a victim would have to file a notice of claim to sue the entity within 90 days of the attack.

Advocates say it can be decades before a victim comes to grips with what happened in their youth and is prepared to move forward.

In New York, sexual abuse survivors have been pushing for passage of a Child Victims Act for a dozen years.  The Democrat-controlled Assembly has passed a version several times during that time, including in 2017.

But each time, the bill, which has been opposed by a number of groups, including religious organizations like the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Jewish community, died in the Republican-dominated Senate.

A key roadblock is a provision that would create a one-year window for sexual abuse victims, like the Browns, who can no longer bring civil cases under current law to be able to do so.

Advocates are more hopeful a bill can pass this year after Gov. Cuomo included the Child Victims Act in his proposed 2018-19 budget.

His proposal would allow survivors to bring civil cases up to 50 years from the attack and would eliminate the statute of limitations for any felony sexually related offense committed against someone under the age of 18.

It would also include the one-year window to revive old cases and would treat public and private institutions the same when it comes to child sex abuse.
Desirae Brown called the measure’s inclusion in the governor’s proposed budget “very promising.”

“We hope by telling our story we can help institute change,” she said.

Deondra Brown said arguments that opening a one-year window to revive old cases would cause a flood of legal cases has not been borne out in other states.

“It’s a good thing,” she said.  “It will allow these victims to see if they have a potential for cases.  If they don’t, the courts will throw it out.  But the opportunity for victims to name their abuser, this is something that needs to happen.  Victims need to be able to come forward and do something so the perpetrators won’t continue to get away with it in our communities.”

Months after their father’s sentencing in 2011,  Desirae Brown and Deondra Brown, who has a 7-year-old daughter, created The Foundation for Survivors of Abuse, a nonprofit group that advocate for victims’ rights.

Deondra Brown said the group was part of the fight in 2015 that led Utah to eliminate the statute of limitations for child sex abuse victims to bring lawsuits as adults.  A year later, a law was passed creating a three-year window to revive old cases that had been time-barred under the old law.

“We realize what a big help it’s been with our healing process to be able to be heard and be able go forward with charges and feel we can have other options available to us,” Deondra Brown said.  “Whether victims choose to move forward or not, it’s so damaging to be told they can’t have a voice and the doors have closed on their opportunity to be heard.  We are a success story but we hope no matter where you live across the country, you’d be able to have those possibilities afforded to you.”

State Senate Republicans, thus far, have not been receptive to Cuomo’s plan.

State Senate Democrats on Tuesday are scheduled to hold a press conference with child abuse survivors and advocates calling on the Republicans to keep the Child Victims Act in the final budget that is due by April 1.

“The Senate Republicans have blocked this important bill for too long,” said Senate Democratic Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins.  “Now is the moment to get this done and we cannot miss this crucial opportunity to provide justice to so many brave survivors.  To remove this bill from the budget or water it down would be a disservice to New York.”

Senate GOP spokesman Scott Reif had no comment.

But Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan in December told The News “we’re more than willing to sit down to have real adult discussions that inure to the benefit of everyone.”

He added that “the specter of a good compromise is everyone walks away a little bit unhappy.  Will we have discussions about it?  Absolutely.  Have we had them?  Yes.  Will they continue in earnest?  I completely believe that 100%.”

The Brown sisters, who are still performing with their siblings as The 5 Browns, join a growing chorus of other national figures who have joined the fight to enact the Child Victims Act in recent months.  Others include actor Corey Feldman, who says he was abused as a child actor, Sunny Hostin, a co-host of “The View” who’s also a former federal prosecutor, and television personality Dr. Mehmet Oz.

The Browns hope their stories and the changes made in states like Utah will convince the Senate Republicans to act this year.

“We realize it can be done even in such a conservative state as Utah, where we have people who are wanting to make sure that victims are protected,” Deondra Brown said.

Why Not Call It Battered Child Syndrome

.jpg photo of man found guilty of child abuse
Alan Farley was initially accused of sexually abusing a child.

Man convicted of Child Abuse avoids prison as part of plea deal

BILLINGS, MT  –  A judge Friday sentenced a Casper area man to probation and a suspended prison sentence for felony child abuse.

Alan Farley was initially accused of sexually abusing a child.  But he pleaded to lesser charges, including the child abuse, as part of a deal that could keep him out of prison.

Natrona County District Judge Daniel Forgey handed down seven-to-10 year suspended prison sentence that would potentially go into effect if Farley violates his five years of probation.

Farley, who frequently conferred with his lawyer during Friday’s hearing, did not speak when Forgey offered him the opportunity.

The victim of the crime addressed the court before sentencing.

“What you did to me was the worst decision you could possibly make,” the child said in a calm, measured tone.

“I want other kids to know they’re not alone and they can stick up for themselves too,” she said.

The plea agreement prevented prosecutors from seeking prison time.

Prosecutor Kevin Taheri asked Forgey for an eight-to-10 year suspended sentence and seven years of supervised probation.  Public defender Curtis Cheney asked for a three-to-five year suspended sentence with probation.

Forgey, in handing down his sentence, did not explain why he imposed the stiffer penalty.

Although Farley was charged in April with two felony sex crimes including second-degree sexual abuse of a minor, he pleaded to lesser charges: felony child abuse and misdemeanor sexual battery.

The girl, who was born in 2006, first told her guardian that she did not like it when Farley cuddled with her, according to court documents.  After the girl told her counselor more details, the guardian decided to report the girl’s allegations to police.

In a later interview, the girl said that Farley grabbed her butt under her pants while they were sitting in a recliner.  She said that he stopped briefly when someone else walked into the room and she moved to a nearby bed.  Farley then followed her to the bed, the April affidavit states.

The girl said she didn’t remember much after that, except that at some point she was completely naked and he was on top of her.  She said she was scared and that she froze, according to the affidavit.

She said that Farley later told her that he would hurt her loved ones if she told anybody about what happened.

Farley was couch surfing at the time of the report, the girl’s family told police.