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.
Medina County Man accused of sexually
assaulting 5 foster children took in 180+ girls
Medina County, TX – A Medina County man accused of sexually assaulting five former foster children, including several in Bexar County, took in more than 180 young girls over a five year period, officials said.
That leads investigators to believe there could be numerous other victims who have yet to come forward.
“It’s not a question about whether there are more,” said Medina County Sheriff Randy Brown. “It’s just about how many.”
One additional victim has already come forward since news broke Wednesday of 58-year-old Miguel Briseno’s arrest, Brown said, bringing the unofficial total to six victims. A charge has not been filed in the sixth alleged case.
Briseno, who is currently being held in the Medina County Jail on a $500,000 bond, was a licensed foster parent from 2005 through 2010, Brown said. During that time he lived in both Bexar and Medina counties.
Over the course of the five years, more than 180 girls passed through his care, Brown said. At various times, Briseno was reportedly taking care of up to 12 girls at once.
Brown said Child Protective Services contracted with a third-party company, who has not yet been publicly identified, to place the girls in Briseno’s home.
“Those girls were taken from some environment and then you have some jackass like him abusing these girls that already have troubles,” Brown said. “I’m aggravated at the whole system. I’m aggravated at the company that placed these girls. It was a money-making deal, the way they were running those girls through there like livestock. It wasn’t about making a better world for them. They were making a profit off them.”
Representatives of Child Protective Services could not immediately comment on the relationship with the company.
Two of the charges against Briseno are out of Medina County, and the remaining three originated in Bexar County. Brown said Briseno first became a foster parent while living in Von Ormy, where the alleged assaults occurred, and later moved to Devine, Texas, in Medina County.
Wednesday’s arrest was not the first time Briseno was arrested on child sex abuse charges. In April 2013, the Medina County Sheriff’s Office arrested him on a charge of solicitation to commit sexual assault of a child. The arrest came after one of Briseno’s foster children said he had sexually assaulted her in August 2012, when he no longer had a foster license, Brown said.
It is not clear why Briseno did not have a license after 2010 and how Briseno still had foster children in his care two years later, though investigators discovered Briseno had attempted to move his foster parent license into his wife’s name, Brown said.
“It’s not a loophole, it’s just downright wrong,” Brown said.
Briseno pleaded guilty in September 2015 to a reduced charge of attempted assault, a Class B misdemeanor. Brown said investigators and prosecutors had difficulty securing testimony against Briseno.
He was sentenced to 180 days in jail, though county officials couldn’t confirm how much time he was actually incarcerated.
Brown said his office, as well as other investigating agencies like the Texas Rangers, plan to look into the unnamed third-party company responsible for placing the children in Briseno’s care. They’re also working to determine whether his wife could be held criminally responsible.
All of Briseno’s reported victims were teenagers at the time of the alleged abuse. They’re now in their 20s. For investigators, the next step is to identify the dozens of remaining girls who were ever in Briseno’s care.
“We don’t know where they’re at,” Brown said.
“If you’ve stayed at that house, if you were a foster child [in Briseno’s care], please contact us,” he said. “Whether you feel something inappropriate happened or not, we’d still like to talk to you.”
Victims are asked to call 210-335-8477 if they have any information on Briseno’s alleged abuse.
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:
Former DCF worker arrested, accused of
falsifying records in Child Abuse case
A former Florida Department of Children and Families worker has been arrested on charges of falsifying records in a case involving a student who came to elementary school with bruises on the face, leg and arm, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said Monday.
Doreece Hines, 31, of Daytona Beach documented visits to the home of the child, whose guidance counselor reported the student’s injuries to the state abuse hotline on Feb. 5, 2016. But Hines never actually conducted the visits, according to an affidavit for her arrest.
Hines, a senior child protective investigator who has since been fired, wrote in a report that the child was in “no present danger” and claimed the mother had admitted striking the child with a jump rope, according to the affidavit. She also said the child had a “small mark” on a thigh and an arm, records show.
The counselor, with a school nurse present, took photos of a cut and a bruise on the child’s right cheek and bruises on the right thigh, arm and under the hip, court documents show.
On Feb. 8, Hines wrote in a case report that she had met with the mother and her children, including the alleged victim, a little before 9 p.m. Feb. 6, court records state.
On March 1, a Putnam County Sheriff’s Office detective inquired about the child, including whether Hines had referred the case to the state’s Child Protection Team, which helps investigate child-abuse and child-neglect cases. Hines said she had, but two days later, the detective was told by the team that the referral hadn’t been made and did it herself, documents state.
Hines later told her supervisor she had forgotten to contact the team, documents show.
On March 4, Hines told a DCF supervisor she had made a mistake and hadn’t actually met with the mother, according to the affidavit.
On March 30, Hines changed her case report, stating that her notes initially had been incorrect, according to the affidavit.
FDLE agents say Hines was legally obligated to report the child’s injuries to the Child Protection Team and law enforcement.
Hines was arrested Thursday on the felony records-falsification charges.