DA continues to push for change in
Child Abuse laws
SAN ANTONIO, TX – One day after a woman was arrested and accused of hurting three children, the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office announced a woman in a separate child abuse case has taken a plea deal.
Porucha Phillips, 34, entered a plea to two counts of injury to a child-serious bodily injury and received a sentence of 50 years in prison.
Phillips was arrested in April of 2016 after deputies found a three-year-old and a four-year-old tied with a dog chain and leash in the back of a North East side backyard.
Two other suspects still face charges in this case.
“We’re still in that negotiating process. This sets the tone. We’re showing how serious we are about this case,” District Attorney Nico LaHood said.
LaHood said he takes child abuse cases seriously. Last legislative session he pushed to have the law “enhanced.” He said it would give a judge or jury the opportunity to give the appropriate punishment for some of the most horrific abuse cases they see.
“It’s an enhancement, which always makes people feel uncomfortable, but all it’s doing is bringing everything up to status quo,” LaHood said. “We have that in other areas of the law with sexual assaults, with family violence, domestic violence situations.”
LaHood said he would push to have the laws changed again in the next legislative session.
When he appeared last week for a bail hearing in a Santa Cruz court, James Kohut, 57, learned that he will now face an 36 additional counts after investigators discovered video evidence allegedly showing the doctor abusing two young boys and a little girl with his two co-defendants, reports The Mercury News.
Kohut was arrested in May along with Rashel Brandon, 42, and an Arizona woman, Emily Stephens, 29. Both women, who were nurses, were charged with four counts of child sexual abuse, with Kohut originally facing 11.
Kohut could end up spending the rest of his life in prison if he is convicted on all 48 counts. He has entered not guilty pleas for all.
According to KSBW, police recovered GoPro video that was recorded between Jan. 1 and May 9 that allegedly shows all three defendants having sex multiple times with a 3-year-old and 10-year-old boy.
A second video filmed at a motel between Jan. 1 and May 9 allegedly depicts a sexual act by the three defendants with the same 10-year-old boy. Court documents list the footage as running longer than 50 minutes.
Plus, detectives found a cell phone video recorded between Jan. 1 and May 9 that allegedly depicts the defendants sexually abusing a 5-year-old girl.
Th new charges alleged the defendants abused 5 children in all: another girl and a child whose sex is being withheld.
All three are being held on $15 million bail, according to KCRA. Stephens faces 45 felonies and Brandon faces 44 felonies linked with molestation and have both pleaded not guilty. Their lawyers were unavailable for comment Tuesday.
The charges against Kohut include alleged abuses authorities contend occurred in 2003, 2014, 2016 and 2017. His lawyer could also not be reached.
Only Kohut is accused of lewd acts and rape of the 10-year-old boy. He is also charged with lewd acts on a fourth victim (a girl who was younger than 14) between 2003 and 2005 as well as a fifth victim in 2014.
‘Solicited Victims for Decades’
Prosecutors in court documents allege that, “for nearly 20 years,” the traveling surgeon with a current permanent address in Arkansas has displayed “a sexual compulsion, and has solicited victims for decades.”
“Like the crimes charged here,” the document alleges, “defendant was soliciting mothers to engage in sexual acts with children.”
Among the examples cited, the prosecution referred to a Vermont woman who said she had a relationship with Kohut from 1997 to 2000. “During that relationship, he told her that he wanted to get her pregnant so she could have a child and they could be sexual with that child,” the document alleges.
The allegations continue: “He told her that he was most interested in children between the ages of 6 to 8. He admitted that he had been in a relationship with a woman in Florida who had a 13-year-old and a 4-year-old child. He admitted that he had sex in front of those children, and fondled the 13-year-old. He would explain that he wanted a ‘sexual family.’ He would ask her to recruit friends for him, and he wanted her to call him ‘daddy.’”
Court documents obtained by PEOPLE allege a woman from Australia told investigators Kohut said in 2003 “that he was searching for a woman who he can impregnate, and will then ‘raise their children sexually.’ He then asked [the woman] if she would let him impregnate and raise their child sexually.”
“Defendant told her that if he had a daughter, he would want to impregnate her at the age of 10 and raise that child sexually as well. He also admitted to having sexual encounters with other children in the past.”
“Finally, he asked her to find him children. He wanted her to volunteer as a homeless shelter or do babysitting jobs and find children that she would molest and he would then listen to them over the phone,” the document alleges.
Kohut allegedly had affairs with both Brandon and Stephens.
While STDs can impact anyone, the new report underscores how disparities are deepening for the hardest-hit and most vulnerable groups:
Youth aged 15-24 continue to make up most reported chlamydia and gonorrhea infections, and are now experiencing syphilis increases.
Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) continue to face the highest rates of syphilis and HIV co-infection. Data from the STD Surveillance Network (SSuN) also suggest gonorrhea rates have increased among MSM for five years.
Pregnant women are experiencing some of the harshest outcomes from untreated STDs with the continued surge of congenital syphilis (CS) – where cases rise to numbers unseen since 1998.
The good news is that we can interrupt the steady climb in STD rates. Doing so means that we must fully commit to doing what works AND to better understanding the changing face of the epidemic, as well as the real-world challenges that can stand in the way of preventing STDs.
Bringing the growing STD burden to a halt requires action by many. For example:
Here at CDC, we’ll continue monitoring national STD trends and for antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea; providing the most up-to-date screening, treatment, and other prevention services guidance; and funding health departments to help support their work to prevent STDs.
Health departments can continue to monitor and analyze their local STD burden; identify and link people with STDs and their partners to treatment and care; and disseminate up-to-date disease trends and clinical preventative resources to healthcare providers.
Providers can take routine sexual histories, as well as test, rapidly diagnose, and treat patients and partners as CDC recommends.
Together, we can make a difference, but it will take all of us – CDC, health departments, healthcare providers, community organizations, and individuals.
Louisiana is working to be that difference. Their health officials are confronting, head on, some of the highest STD rates in the country.
By tackling their burden on multiple fronts, Louisiana is gaining ground in spite of an uphill battle. For example, with syphilis, they’ve increased testing and reduced time to treatment in public health clinics.
In 2016, the number of CS cases decreased for the first time in five years. With expanded extragenital gonorrhea and chlamydia testing, they also diagnosed 165 cases that would have otherwise been missed.
These budding achievements are a strong reminder to us all that good prevention remains in reach. Reversing our growing STD burden will take a lot of work, and it won’t happen overnight, but it is worth it.
At the end of the day, STD prevention is about more than stopping a single disease, it’s about safeguarding our quality of life. I know it. You know it. Let’s make sure that other people know it, too.
Here are some resources especially for you, as well as prevention materials you can share in your community:
El Pueblo Boys & Girls Ranch license suspended after reports of Child Abuse
PUEBLO, CO – A child care facility in Pueblo has been shut down after reports of child abuse surfaced to the Department of Human Services.
Over the last year, El Pueblo Boys & Girls Ranch has had 11 repeat violations regarding use of physical restraints, six repeat violations regarding inappropriate discipline, 18 repeat violations of children’s rights, and five repeat lack of supervision violations.
DHS requested on September 25 that El Pueblo Boys & Girls Ranch’s license be suspended on the following grounds:
On July 20, the Department received a complaint stating that the “current Chief Executive Officer of El Pueblo inappropriately restrained a child.” The Chief Executive Officer also submitted false and misleading documentation to the Department regarding the incident.
In August, another report made to DHS stated that a child ran from El Pueblo and rode in the back of a train for at least one hour. The child claimed that he was being bullied and that the staff would not intervene. He also said El Pueblo wasn’t providing adequate medical attention.
About a month later, a third report was made that staff at El Pueblo weren’t giving a “high needs” child all the necessary medications he/she required and that the child left the facility with an unexplained burn.
Also during the month of September, a child who was supposed to be under one-on-one supervision was left alone and escaped out a window. It took at least an hour to find the child.
On September 20, a staff member allegedly physically abused a child. “Staff pulled the child’s hair, scratched the child, and elbowed and kneed the child’s body,” according to DHS’ order of summary suspension document. Staff is also being accused of punching that child in the mouth around the same time.
A day later, a child with disabilities was reportedly rolling around the ground and staff was told by administrators not to intervene. The order of summary suspension paperwork says that over a time frame of around 25 minutes, the child ended up biting their own arms and legs, resulting in bleeding wounds and pulled off his or her own skin and was chewing and eating it.
DHS says that it has also received several reports that more than one child at El Pueblo had attempted suicide. DHS was also notified that children were showing significant weight loss after leaving El Pueblo and that the children were expressing they were hungry.
DHS sent the following statement to KRDO NewsChannel 13:
“DHS is working with the agencies who have placed children at El Pueblo, as they are moved to other placements as quickly as possible. All children and youth will be moved before CDHS staff leave the facility. While the specific locations are confidential, all children and youth will be moved to licensed facilities (other residential child care facilities, group homes or group centers), certified providers (foster care homes), or with their parent/guardian, if appropriate.”
El Pueblo Boys & Girls Ranch located at One El Pueblo Ranch Way in Pueblo, Colo. opened January 1, 1995. It applied for a license continuation around the time of March 17, 2017.
Day care workers charged after Snapchat video shows taunting, abuse of autistic child
WINTER HAVEN, FL – Two child care workers have turned themselves into police after investigators said they were suspected of berating a child with autism in an incident recorded on video, reports CBS affiliate WTSP.
In the video, which was first posted to the social media platform Snapchat, two women who police believe are 26-year-old Kadericca Smith and 19-year-old Alexis Henderson can be seen laughing at the 8-year-old boy inside Our Children’s Academy, in Winter Haven, Florida.
“Chicken, chicken, chicken,” one woman can be heard saying, as the boy comes out from hiding under a desk.
Later, one of the women is seen holding the boy’s arms before apparently swiping his legs from under him.
Police were first made aware of this on Sept. 1 and say in an initial interview, both women “felt they were acting appropriately” and did nothing wrong. At the time, police hadn’t pressed charges because the Florida Department of Children and Families was still investigating.
Warrants were later issued for the women’s arrest, and they reportedly turned themselves in Friday.
Henderson is charged with child neglect and Smith faces charges of child abuse and battery. Henderson received bond after being booked into jail, but Smith is being held with bond.
Smith faces charges of child abuse and battery.
Police say the school immediately fired the two women following the incident. Both also had blocks placed on their certifications so they cannot be employed by other childcare facilities.