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.
PDC community divided as principal charged with Child Abuse makes first court appearance
Prairie du Chien, WI – On Wednesday, Aaron Amundson, a Prairie du Chien principal for Bluff View Intermediate School charged with physical abuse of a child, appeared in court for the first time.
According to a criminal complaint, Amundson used chemical cleaners to scrub off two letters on a student’s hand. According to the victim’s mom, her son’s hand was chemically burned from Amundson’s actions.
Before Wednesday’s hearing, Amundson’s defense filed a motion to dismiss the charge, but the prosecution was not ready to argue that motion.
However, the prosecution did ask the judge for a $1,000 bond and a strict no contact order between Amundson and the victim.
In response, the defense asked for the no contact order to have exceptions for Amundson to accidentally run into the student at Bluff View. The defense argued a strict no contact order would prevent Amundson from going back to work at the school as long as the victim attends the same school.
The judge granted the no contact order with exceptions for incidental contact at the school.
Critics of Amundson say this case highlights the deeper divide in the Prairie du Chien community.
“Since the recession, our community got divided. It’s either you have money or you don’t,” Darlene Natwick, a mother with a son in the PDC School District, said.
She said Amundson’s supporters, “want to protect him.”
An Amundson supporter said Amundson did not intentionally chemically burn a student.
“It’s a tragedy what occurred. It was a mistake,” Kurt Kravchuk, who had a child in the PDC School District, said. “Aaron freely admits he made a mistake and didn’t look at the directions. He was just trying to help out a child that came to him in need.”
Amundson has been on paid, non-disciplinary leave, but some women say they’ve seen him at the school.
District Administrator Bob Smudde said that’s because he has allowed Amundson back.
“He’s been going to administrative meetings at the bookends of the day, no student contact,” Smudde said. “Since he is on paid leave we are trying to get him to be as involved in the administrative process with meetings with adults as possible, but he is doing nothing with students at this time.”
Smudde said the District Attorney did ask him to not allow Amundson back on campus, and Smudde said Amundson has not been back since. He added that there has not yet been a decision made as to if Amundson will be allowed on school grounds after the judge created a no contact order with exceptions allowing for Amundson to be on school grounds.
Smudde said that no decision has been made in regards to Amundson’s employment because of the ongoing court proceedings.
In the meantime, Amundson’s supporters and critics both hope for different outcomes.
“I really think it’s time for a new principal. I would like to see a new principal,” Natwick said.
Kravchuk said, “I just hope justice is carried out in a proper manner.”
A motion hearing and preliminary hearing are set for May 31 at 2:30 at the Crawford County Courthouse.
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.