VA Concerned With Child Abuse And Neglect Numbers

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Child deaths from abuse and neglect are on the rise in VA.

Hampton Roads leads region in Child Abuse and Neglect deaths

HAMPTON ROADS, VA  –  Some of the most vulnerable people in our community are dying at an alarming rate.

Child deaths from abuse and neglect are on the rise, and local groups are working to educate parents and make everyone a partner in prevention.

The Eastern Region Child Fatality Review Team says the rate of kids dying from child abuse and neglect in this area is the second-highest in the state — which is why is they’re working to increase awareness of the issue.

“So many of these deaths are accidental, but some of them are intentional and we have to worry about those, too.  Some people just aren’t safe parents, and we need to protect children from those parents as well,” said committee member Betty Wade Coyle.

The committee says 14 children in Hampton Roads died from abuse or neglect last year.  Five of those children were infants who never reached their first birthday, and five more victims were 3 years old or younger.

The team reviewed 49 cases of abuse or neglect that were investigated by local agencies last year, including the including the death of 5-year-old Levi Robertson in Isle of Wight.

His mother and her boyfriend were found guilty of manslaughter after the child was found unresponsive in January.

“Our number seems high compared to the rest of the state, but that’s because, in some ways, we feel it’s because we’re counting better than other areas,” explained Coyle.

Coyle says the three factors that contribute to the largest number of cases are substance abuse, mental illness and domestic abuse.

The committee says children are also dying in unsafe sleep environments.
Coyle says the safest way for babies to sleep is “alone, on their back, in a crib.”

Poverty is an underlying issue, but more can be done to help parents, like providing safe housing options and home visiting programs for families who are high-risk.

Operation Net Nanny 16th By WSP MECTF

.jpg photo of Law Enforcement Operation stopping child sex predators graphic
COLLABORATION: OPERATION NET NANNY

Operation Net Nanny: 19 ARRESTS
in KITSAP COUNTY

KITSAP COUNTY, WA  –  Nineteen dangerous sexual predators who targeted children in Kitsap County were removed from the streets, thanks to a multi-day operation run by the Washington State Patrol (WSP) and several partner agencies.

Dubbed “Operation Net Nanny,” this is the 16th operation spearheaded by the WSP’s Missing and Exploited Children Task Force (MECTF), an Internet Crimes Against Children affiliate.  Since the original operation in August 2015, MECTF has netted a total of 271 arrests and rescued more than 31 children across the state.

The funding for this operation was made possible due in part by support from the public as well as a generous donation from Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.).  O.U.R. is a non-profit 501(c)(3) who shares the mission of law enforcement agencies to save children and see that child predators are arrested and prosecuted. O.U.R. is privileged and honored to partner with our nation’s law enforcement heroes in this important cause to combat the sexual exploitation of children in our nation’s communities.

MECTF’s primary mission is to proactively target those persons involved in child abuse and child exploitation via the internet.  “This operation is aimed at protecting our vulnerable children.  We will not rest in our efforts to make Washington communities safer and appreciate our partners in this important work” says WSP Chief John R. Batiste.

From July 25, 2019 to July 29, 2019, undercover law enforcement officers used various websites on the internet and phone applications to communicate with people interested in having sex with children.  The operation generated hundreds of responses.  The would-be perpetrators who were arrested during the operation traveled to meet with the undercover detectives posing as underage girls and boys with the intent to engage in sexual activity with children as young as six years old.

Primary crimes investigated are:

  • RCW 9A.44.073 – Rape of a child in the first degree – attempt
  • RCW 9A.44.076 – Rape of a child in the second degree – attempt
  • RCW 9.68A.100 – Commercial sexual abuse of a minor
  • RCW 9.68A.090 – Communication with a minor for immoral purposes

The names of the individuals arrested during the operation are:

  • Joseph T. McCarthy, 23, Maple Valley
  • Anthony J. Tangonan, 24, Bremerton
  • Owen T. Shreve, 27, Poulsbo
  • Hector C Escobar, 26, Lakewood
  • Jordan M. Kaufman, 24, Port Orchard
  • Kendall N Spann, 25, Bremerton
  • Bradley D Petrie, 21, Bremerton
  • Skyler L Barkdull, 20, Tacoma
  • Timmothy A Hoskinson, 49, Bremerton
  • David Bagby, 39, Port Orchard
  • Mathew E Sanches, 25, Tacoma
  • Zachary M. Drouin, 26, Olalla
  • Dominic J. McGill, 27, Lynnwood
  • Reid A. Weeks, 64, Woodland
  • Noah A. LaFountaine, 22, Bremerton
  • Jason C. Steele, 46, Seattle
  • Travan T. Tagaloa, 33, Bremerton
  • B. A. Youngblood Simpson, 26, Bremerton
  • Jimmy S. Howard, 46, Bremerton

“The number of arrests made during this operation is extremely disappointing,” said Bremerton Police Department Chief Jim Burchett.  “I hope that someday we conduct an operation like this and no one responds.  Until that time, we will continue taking proactive steps to keep our kids safe, including partnering with the Washington State Patrol Missing and Exploited Children Task Force in the outstanding work they do in protecting children from predators.”

Anyone with information related to the suspects listed, or information leading to the identity of victims potentially involved in these cases please contact MECTF at mectf@wsp.wa.gov.

“The Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office will continue targeting those persons who engage in victimizing the most vulnerable members of our communities, our children, through sexual abuse and human trafficking,” said Kitsap County Sheriff Gary Simpson.  “Working as part of the WSP task force optimizes our investigative and enforcement capabilities ten-fold, which assists us in holding these perpetrators accountable for their actions.”

The collaborative effort involving more than 60 dedicated law enforcement officers, agents, and staff led to the success of this operation.  Those agencies involved include:

  • Federal Bureau of Investigation’s South Sound Child Exploitation Task Force
  • Homeland Security Investigations
  • Naval Criminal Investigative Service
  • Bremerton Police Department
  • West Sound Narcotics Enforcement Team
  • Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office
  • Jefferson County Sherriff’s Office
  • Washington State Attorney General’s Office
  • Washington State Patrol High-Tech Crime Unit
  • Washington State Patrol Criminal Investigation Division
  • Washington State Patrol Field Operation Bureau
  • Washington State Patrol Missing and Unidentified Persons Unit
  • Washington State Patrol Missing and Exploited Children Task Force (MECTF)
  • Washington State Patrol Fusion Center
  • Kitsap County Prosecutor’s Office
  • Maui Police Department ~ Hawaii
  • Alabama Attorney General Office

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

DONATE TODAY

.jpg photo of Operation Underground Railroad Logo graphicIn the past five years of existence, O.U.R. has rescued 2,760 victims and assisted in the arrests of more than 1,493 traffickers around the world.

NY Gov Dragging Feet Signing Legislation?

.jpg photo of girl legislation is named for
Erin Merryn

Child Sex Abuse victim advocates want
to know why Cuomo hasn’t signed
Erin’s Law

ALBANY, NY  –  Advocates for child sex abuse victims say Gov. Andrew Cuomo is dragging his feet on signing education legislation that could decrease future child sex abuse cases.

“Erin’s Law” requires at least one hour per school year to teach kids in kindergarten through eighth grade about abuse and how to report it.

A 2015 federal law championed by U.S. Senator Kirstan Gillibrand (D-NY) provides grant funding for the program.

It’s been passed in 37 states, including New York, when the bill cleared both legislative chambers on June 20.

“I don’t know what’s going on in New York.  It’s frustrating because I flew to New York and testified in 2011.  It’s been the most difficult state to get it passed.  Now we have to wait yet another year,” Erin Merryn, an abuse survivor from Illinois, for whom the legislation is named, told The Post.

Under the law, the state Education Department would be required to devise the curriculum, but a spokesman said the department does not comment on pending legislation.

“They made me repeat first grade because of what nobody knew was going on,” Merryn added.

“You’re actually saving money by teaching this because those kids that are being abused are the kids that you’re having to pour so much more funding into.”

“It’s important that [Gov. Cuomo] does this sooner than later, even though we’ve missed this year’s deadline, this is crucial for the children of the state of New York,” she said.

“Erin’s law actually prevents child abuse in a big way,” said child sex abuse survivor Gary Greenberg, who has pushed the bill for years.

“[It] is an even more important law than the Child Victims Act because it will actually go into every public school in the state and teach kids who to report to, and about appropriate touching.  As time goes on he’s signing all these bills, a lot of bills, and no Erin’s law,” he said of Gov. Cuomo.

The law would take effect on the July 1 after the bill is signed.

“We 100 percent agree with the intent of the bill and want to ensure it’s implemented correctly.  The bill language remains under review by counsel’s office,” said Cuomo spokeswoman Caitlin Girouard.

The state’s office of Children and Family Services said in 2018, the statewide central register hotline received 297,233 calls related to child abuse cases resulting in 199,047 reports flagged for further action.

Not Much Of A Deterrent

.jpg photo of school of medicine where professor was charged with possessing child pornography
A professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine was charged with the distribution and possession of child pornography.

UCLA professor of medicine charged with possession and distribution of
Child Porn

A professor at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine was charged with distributing and possessing child pornography, a Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office news release announced Wednesday.

Guido Germano, director of artificial intelligence medicine at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and UCLA professor-in-residence, plead not guilty to one felony count of distributing obscene matter and one count of possession of child or youth pornography Thursday, according to the Los Angeles Times.

He is accused of using a peer-to-peer software to distribute child pornography videos and downloading them to his personal computer, according to Deputy District Attorney Angela Brunson of the Cyber Crime Division in the news release.

Germano is still listed on the UCLA campus directory as of Aug. 2.  However, he was placed on administrative leave Thursday after the university was made aware of the charges against him, a UCLA spokesperson said.

He was arrested June 19 and released on bond.  His arraignment was scheduled for Aug. 1.

Germano faces a potential maximum sentence of three years and eight months in state prison if convicted as charged, according to the news release.  The case is still under investigation.