WICHITA, KS – A couple dozen people including family, friends and community members gathered at St Joseph’s Catholic Church, 145 S. Millwood Ave., Thursday morning to say their final goodbyes to two-year-old Tony Bunn.
“Nobody knows how many times I’ve broken down and cried, I want to tell you something, there won’t be any doubt, you’re so wonderful to think about, but so hard to be without.”
Zak Woolheater doesn’t know the author of this poem, but it’s helped him put into words the pain his family feels at the loss of his grandson, Tony Bunn.
“He was the most amazing kid you’ll ever see,” Zak says.
First responders were called to Tony’s home on May 4. Police say he wasn’t breathing. He was hospitalized and died two days later.
An autopsy report showed he had blunt force trauma injuries.
The family’s attorney said Thursday was not only about Tony but about keeping other children safe and never having another child taken from abuse.
“We are still trying to figure out what all needs to be done, it’s certainly not just a DCF problem, and not just a law enforcement problem. That is a systemic breakdown,” said Shayla Johnston, the Woolheater family’s attorney.
Tony was buried St. Mary’s Allepo Cemetery in Garden Plain.
His mother, Elizabeth Woolheater and her boyfriend, Lucas Diel, are charged with first-degree murder in his death.
The statistics are shocking. According to Victims of Crime, a website with national statistics on child abuse, one-in-five girls, and one-in-twenty boys, are victims of sexual abuse.
“These numbers are incorrect, the actual statistics are: Child rape occurs every two minutes. 1 in 3 girls will be sexually molested before the age 17, and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually molested before the age 17 (1 in 5 in Canada). A sex offender will molest an average of 120 victims, most of whom do not report it, and 90% of molesters abuse children they know.”
“What we learned and what I personally learned is once you start talking about it, once you actually get somebody not to be hush-hush and quiet and talk about it then you realize they know somebody who knows somebody,” says Oasis, the executive producer of the documentary.
The idea for the documentary was born from Wanda Martin Palmer, the founder of #ProtectOurGirlsCampaign.
Wanda says she and her daughter were victimized by the same person, prompting her to create the campaign, which she now uses to give resources and information to other victims.
“She’s going to make sure that it goes to the highest level as it can possibly go,” says Javenna Smith Myrieckes, director of the film.
End The Silence, which centers around Palmer, brings out a series of emotions, from anger to sadness.
“A couple of the young ladies have such extreme experiences that what makes it difficult for them to go on is that some of the predators and violators are still in their family structure,” said Javenna. “And then, I start to find out about their victories and their healing, and I actually start to get a little afraid. Because it’s a subject matter that not everyone wants to avoid and ignore.”
The hope is this film will accomplish its two main goals. To show victims that there are ways to get the help they need, and to begin the conversation, a conversation long overdue.
“It’s not going to be the perfect discussion, it’s uncomfortable. But it’s necessary,” said Javenna.
End The Silence will premiere at the Black Diamond Lounge in Fruitland on August 24, and again at the Senator Theater in Baltimore on August 30.
You can find out more information at endthesilencedocumentary.com.
Oklahoma Senate approves bill which would
require ‘immediate’ reporting of Child Abuse
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – The Oklahoma Senate on Thursday approved a bill Thursday which would modify the requirements for reporting child abuse.
House Bill 2259 which would require individuals, especially educators, to report suspected child abuse or neglect of those 17 years old and younger “immediately” to the DHS Child Abuse Hotline and those 18 years or older to law enforcement.
The bill modifies the current law, which says suspected abuse must be reported “promptly.”
“Current law advises people to report suspected abuse and neglect ‘promptly’ but this term is obviously getting misinterpreted as many cases aren’t being reported for several days or weeks after it’s discovered,” said Ron Sharp, R-Shawnee. “As a former educator, I’m glad that the bill specifically requires teachers to report suspected abuse and neglect as these are the people who spend the most time with these kids and can recognize changes in behavior or see evidence of abuse. For most kids, schools are safe zones and they trust their teachers and often open up about violence in their home. Hopefully, this change will help protect more of Oklahomans children and get them away from bad situations.”
Report: State employee who investigates
Child Abuse tells police he has sexually abused several kids
YAKIMA, WA – A state Child and Family Services employee whose job involved investigating child abuse and neglect walked into a Yakima police station and said that he had sexually abused five kids during the past eight years, the Yakima Herald reported Friday.
The 50-year-old state employee told police he knew the alleged victims, but that they were not children that he came into contact with as part of his job, the newspaper reported.
Child and Family Services is a division of the state Department of Social and Health Service (DSHS).
According to court documents, the man came into the police station Thursday and said he had sexually abused five children over a period of years, from 2010 to as recently as April 2018.
Police said the victims were believed to be under the age of 12 when the alleged sexual abuse first occurred, the newspaper said.
The man had his first appearance in court on Friday. The investigation is continuing.
Q13 News typically does not name a suspect until he or she has been formally charged.
NYS Exposed: Who’s opposed to giving
Child Sex Abuse victims more time to
Rochester, NY – Should victims of child sex abuse be able to sue their abusers decades later?
The New York State Legislature is considering extending the statute of limitations on child sex crimes but there are some big organizations spending thousands of dollars to fight it.
Currently, someone who is sexually abused as a child has until the age of 23 to press criminal charges against his or her abuser. Under the proposed legislation, a victim would have until his 28th birthday to file criminal charges and his 50th birthday to file civil charges.
At the age of 13, a family member shattered Melanie Blow’s trust, “one day he pulled me aside, he sexually assaulted me and I mean… inside my world changed, outside, I didn’t dare tell anybody,” she recalled. The abuse continued and so did her silence until a decade later when she realized her abuser had done the same thing to other children.
“It never occurred to me that he was going to do this to someone else,” she said.
Since then, she’s been pushing for changes that would allow victims more time to come to terms with their abuse and seek justice.
“When children are victimized sexually in their early years, they very often don’t have the ability to intellectually or developmentally understand what’s happened to them,” said Deb Rosen, the Executive Director of the Bivona Child Advocacy Center.
That’s why many states have done away with statutes of limitations or have significantly extended them.
“New York State is truly out-of-step with the rest of the country in this area,” Rosen added.
It seems there is widespread support in Albany when it comes to giving victims more time to press criminal charges and file civil suits but the legislation also includes a one-year “look-back” for civil cases and that is the sticking point. During that window, anyone, abused at any time could sue.
“You go generations, somebody could stake a claim from something that happened 30, 40, 50 years ago and there’s no one to defend against those particular allegations,” said New York State Senator Patrick Gallivan of Elma.
Who seems most concerned about that? Not the alleged abusers but their possible former places of employment. News10NBC pulled lobbying records that show some of the very groups who are supposed to protect children, have spent money urging lawmakers not to pass this legislation. The list includes public and private schools and teachers, the Boy Scouts of America, the Catholic Church and insurance companies.
“At this point, I feel that it only right to explain one very important point, and give you, Our Readers, the stats. When a Child says they have been molested, you had better listen, because it is unsubstantiated less than 2% of the time. However, when The Clergy has been named, it is unsubstantiated over 60% of the time, although these men’s testimony is ruined forever. Just so everyone knows, Law Enforcement does all of this type investigations.”
In fact, following a meeting with Governor Andrew Cuomo about the Child Victims Act in March, the Archbishop of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan is quoted as saying “a look-back would be toxic for us…. We find it to be very strangling because we, unfortunately, have a precedent when that happens, the only organization that is targeted is the Catholic church.”
There’s also some concern from lawmakers that a look-back could flood the court system with thousands of civil cases. The State of California recently passed legislation that included a look-back window; so far, about 1,200 claims have been filed.
When asked if he thought the legislation would pass if the look-back window wasn’t included, Senator Gallivan told News10NBC, “the best way that I can say is this is now being talked about more than I’ve ever heard it talked about in the past and I think the momentum is there for something to get done.”
Melanie said, the least state lawmakers can do is let victims have their day in court.
“It’s really hard to take a case forward when it’s happening right now. It’s much harder to take it forward when it happened decades ago but it can happen and all victims are asking for is the right to try,” she told News10NBC.