Category Archives: Better Laws

Distinguished Eagle Scout Award

.jpg photo of Distinguished Eagle Scout Mike Rowe
Eagle Scout Mike Rowe, who was also awarded the Distinguiushed Eagle Scout over 5 years ago.

Mike Rowe Unloads on All-Inclusive ‘Scouts’ in Tucker Interview

In an interview this week with Fox News host Tucker Carlson, Eagle Scout Mike Rowe (who may have done a few notable things since) expressed concern over the recent changes in the Scouts, arguing that he hopes the organization would be “an antidote for the safe space environment that’s out there.”

Rowe made the remark when asked by Carlson about how “the scouts are no longer the Boy Scouts, but simply the Scouts” and how he felt about it.

“Well it’s funny you should ask, Tucker, because no less than 10,000 people have asked me that very question over the last month on my Facebook page,” Rowe said. “Distinguished Eagle Scout, if you’re keeping score.  Five or six years ago, I was awarded that, and it was very touching.”

Rowe indicated that he was adopting a wait-and-see attitude with the new initiative, which would let girls into the Scouts, but felt there were some ominous signs.

“Look, I’m watching what’s happening very carefully,” he said.  “I’ve sent 50 to 55,000 thousand letters out over the last 10 years to other Eagle Scouts, and I think the country needs the Scouts, I think the country needs the Future Farmers of America, and Skills USA, and 4H, desperately, now more than ever.

“So, it does concern me to see all the confusion swirling around the organization.  But like so many wounds, I’m afraid many of these are self-inflicted, and I also think some of the confusion that’s going on is legitimate.

“I read their official statement — while girls are being welcomed in, I didn’t read anything about integrated camping trips, or troop meetings.  I think it really is a play to compete more directly with the Girl Scouts.  And I understand why the Girl Scouts are upset, but since when is competition a bad thing?

“So I think character development and leadership development have never been more important than they are today, so my hope is that the Boy Scouts assume the opportunity that’s presenting itself and become an antidote for the safe space environment that’s out there and push back a little bit.  I mean, not to sound like the angry guy on your neighbor’s porch yelling at the kids on the lawn, but when I was in the Scouts in ’74 and ’75, it wasn’t a safe space there in the basement of our church. You’d go home with a bloody nose sometimes, or a black eye.  We had a boxing ring.

“You know, it was a vibrant place where you really could test yourself and fail in a way, that on the one hand, made you safe enough to attempt, but on the other hand didn’t try to check every box and please every single person,” Rowe added.  “It’s a tough time.  I’m sympathetic for the leaders, but I’m afraid you’ve got to draw the line somewhere and be very, very clear about what you stand for as well as against.”

When asked whether he thought something was ending, Rowe was ambivalent.

“I don’t know.  Again, you either evolve, or you die.  But at the same time, I think people are confused, because the Scouts simply haven’t come out and said categorically what they’re for, right?” Rowe said.

“So I just think this conversation touches every single hot point right now going on in popular culture, from tolerance to acceptance, which by the way, I’m not sure what the difference between those two things is anymore, but there used to be a big difference.”

Rowe added that “my hope for these youth-based organizations that help preach character is that they look for people who want to be challenged, and not curry favor so much with those who want a nice, reassuring pat on the head.”

After Carlson noted “that’s how the Episcopal Church died,” Rowe merely responded with, “Yeah, wow!”

Alas, one fears that the Scouts are moving in that safe space direction (the very idea of a boxing ring for Scouts sounds almost insane in this day and age, which should give you a good idea of where we’ve gone as a society).  However, they won’t go there — and nor will society — without a bit of pushback.  And, as you can tell, Rowe is going to be one of those pushing back.

Wichita KS Toddler Remembered

Child Abuse victim laid to rest

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.

.jpg photo of Kansas child killed by child abuse
Tony Bunn, 2-years-old

“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.

They are set to be back in court next week.

OK Getting Serious About Child Abuse

.jpg photo of Oklahoma Capitol Building
Oklahoma Capitol

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.”

HB 2259 now goes to Gov. Mary Fallin.

More Backpage Indictments Filtered Found On Research

.jpg photo of Backpage website Co-Founder
Jim Larkin, Backpage Website Co-Founder.

Three North Texans charged in Backpage
indictment

“I do not appreciate the media filtering my search engine results, most particularly when it involves Children being Abused or Trafficked, so here are the names of the 7 defendants charged:”

“The seven defendants charged in the indictment are Michael Lacey, 69, of Paradise Valley, Arizona; James Larkin, 68, of Paradise Valley, Arizona; Scott Spear, 67, of Scottsdale, Arizona; John E. “Jed” Brunst, 66, of Phoenix, Arizona; Daniel Hyer, 49, of Dallas, Texas; Andrew Padilla, 45, of Plano, Texas and Jaala Joye Vaught, 37, of Addison, Texas.”
~ Robert StrongBow ~

.jpg photo of Backpage website Co-Founder.
Michael Lacey, Backpage Co-Founder

“Website founders Michael Lacey and James Larkin are charged with facilitating prostitution and money laundering.”

April 9, 2018

PHOENIX, AZ  –  The founders of Backpage.com and five others at the classified site have been indicted on federal charges in what authorities say was a scheme to facilitate prostitution by running ads for sexual services and hiding their revenues.

An indictment unsealed Monday alleges that Backpage.com on some occasions had helped customers edit their ads so they would stay within legal limits while still encouraging commercial sex.

In one area, the indictment reads, “for several years, Backpage’s official policy, when presented with an ad featuring child prostitution, was to delete the particular words in the ad denoting the child’s age and then publish a revised version of the ad.”

It also says that Backpage claimed it does everything in its power to alert the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children whenever it becomes aware that a child is being advertised on the website.

But the indictment alleges that Backpage implemented policies to limit referrals to NCMEC.

The indictment says a top official emailed another saying, “If we don’t want to blow past 500 (referrals to NCMEC) this month, we shouldn’t be doing more than 16 a day.”

Other documents are referred to in the indictment saying a training document instructed website moderators not to send emergency alerts to NCMEC in response to complaints filed by the grandparents or other extended family being advertised on the website.

Website founders Michael Lacey and James Larkin are charged with facilitating prostitution and money laundering.

They are already facing state money laundering charges in California.

Larry Kazan, who represents Lacey, didn’t return a call seeking comment. There is no listing for Larkin’s attorney.

Seven defendants charged in the indictment include three people from North Texas, 49-year-old Daniel Hyer, of Dallas, 45-year-old Andrew Padilla, of Plano, and 37-year-old Jaala Joye Vaught, of Addison.

Authorities also have seized Backpage.com and its affiliated websites.

Julia Walsh, a sex trafficking survivor from the DFW area, says that she was sold for sex on Backpage for almost 3 years.

By age 19, she says men were paying as little as $40 for sexual encounters.
Walsh says she was trafficked from 2010 to 2014, and that her first trafficker was her boyfriend.

“They would post an ad about me, and we’d get over like 50 calls within an hour that’s just how many people are visiting the website,” Walsh said.

Walsh says she would have at least 200 sexual encounters with customers weekly.

“Probably about 210. Sometimes more and sometimes less. It depends what city we were in and what time of day it was,” Walsh said.

Now 26, Walsh says she was rescued during a police sting in 2014.

That was just two years before agents raided Backpage’s Dallas headquarters. On Monday, Attorney General Ken Paxton said that evidence was taken during the raid that was crucial to crafting the 93-count indictment.

At the time, CEO Carl Ferrer was arrested on pimping charges.  He isn’t charged in the indictment, but throughout the documents, a person with knowledge about the company is constantly referenced and is only identified with the initials “C.F.”

Tonya Stafford, a sex trafficking survivor who helps rescue women and children sold for sex online, applauded the website’s demise.

Stafford was sold for drugs when she was 13. From 1988 to 1997 she was held against her will.

Through her program “It’s Going to Be Ok, Inc.” she helps find new homes for sex trafficking victims.

She said she often visited Backpage for rescues.

“If a parent calls me or messages me saying their child is missing…I have to go through page after page,” Stafford said.  “That’s the hardest part.”

On June 23rd, Stafford will be hosting the 2nd Annual Stop The Traffick Walk near Bachman Lake.

KS CPS Bold Step Sent To Senate

.jpg photo of acting secretary of Kansas DCF
Gina Meier-Hummel, acting secretary at the Kansas Department for Children and Families.

Kansas House unanimously passes bill to release information after Child Abuse deaths

In a final vote Thursday morning, the Kansas House unanimously passed legislation that would require the state to release information after a child dies of abuse or neglect.

The chamber voted 124-0 in favor of the bill.  It now goes to the Senate, where lawmakers will decide whether to accept the House version.  If they don’t, the bill would be sent to a conference committee to work out any differences. After that, each chamber would vote again.

Child advocates say if the bill becomes law, the most vulnerable children in Kansas will be better protected.

“Absolutely it’s a step forward,” said Lori Ross, a long-time advocate in Missouri.  “Transparency is necessary for the child welfare system to continuously improve.  … I’m so thrilled they haven’t dropped this.”

The House action comes after several high-profile deaths in the recent years. Frustrated lawmakers, as well as child advocates across the state, have said more must be known about these cases so the system improves and other children are protected.

The Star has fought for years to obtain records and information after several horrific child deaths, including the 2015 death of Adrian Jones, a Kansas City, KS boy whose body was fed to pigs.

In a months-long investigation into the secrecy that permeates Kansas government, The Star found in late November a pervasive effort inside DCF to avoid transparency, hiding behind privacy laws and internal procedures — even instructing employees to shred notes taken in meetings where the death of a child was discussed.

Under the bill, SB 336, DCF would be required to release within seven business days the age and sex of the child, date of the fatality, a summary of previous reports to the agency and findings, as well as any department-recommended services provided.

Also, if a child dies while in state custody, the bill requires the DCF secretary to release the age and sex of the child, date of the fatality and summary of the facts surrounding the death.  This section relates directly to children who die in foster care and the death is considered an accident.

Since Secretary Gina Meier-Hummel took over the troubled agency in early December, she has vowed to be more transparent.  She worked with lawmakers on the bill and she and Gov. Jeff Colyer have been pushing for its passage.

As the bill went through the committee process there were heated moments as troubles with the child welfare system were discussed.  Lawmakers said this week that Meier-Hummel is providing the leadership that the state currently needs.

After Rep. John Carmichael commended the Judiciary Committee in a Wednesday hearing for its work with the legislation, he turned his attention to discussing Meier-Hummel.

“I also want to express to the current secretary of DCF my admiration for her first bringing the bill,” the Wichita Democrat said.  “And second, for responding frankly and candidly to sometimes difficult questions in the Judiciary Committee.”