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Bikers Against Child Abuse launch Calgary chapter

Child Abuse
Bikers Against Child Abuse Calgary Chapter

Motorcycle enthusiasts empower abused children

They’re not a gang, but they do wear black leather jackets and ride motorcycles in large groups.

“When they look at us [and] see all these big burly guys, they know that we’re there for them. That’s a lot of empowerment to them,” said William Hebert, whose road name is Wheels.

He is referring to the children that he and his biker friends watch over. Wheels is the president of the Calgary chapter of Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA).

The not-for-profit organization is new to Calgary but has been around for more than 20 years in Canada and the U.S., as well as chapters across Europe and Australia.

Police, social services and therapists connect motorcycle enthusiasts with kids who have experienced abuse.

Tough-guy guardians

The tough-guy guardian angels provide friendship, moral and physical support for the children, whether that be parking their bikes outside their home or escorting them to and from the courthouse to testify.

“At a glance out of their eye they know that they’ve got all their friends standing, waiting for them, cheering them on,” said BACA Calgary member Brian (Woody) Woodhouse.

“Just giving them the strength that they need within themselves to be able to carry on and work the steps through the justice system in order to begin the healing process,” adds Woodhouse.

Woodhouse joined BACA after his six-year-old stepdaughter, Meika Jordan, was killed.

The girl’s biological father Spencer Jordan and his girlfriend Marie Magoon have been charged with first-degree murder.

The trial for the couple starts March 23 in Calgary. That day BACA members from across Alberta and Saskatchewan are planning a rally in the city.

BACA Calgary is still training and educating new members and doing criminal record checks. The chapter expects to be fully up and running by the fall of 2015

Bikers Against Child Abuse providing protection

Child Abuse
Bikers Against Child Abuse

When you’re feeling scared and intimidated, it helps to have someone in your corner, especially if you’re a child and that ‘someone’ is a tough-looking biker.

Bikers Against Child Abuse is helping children who have been abused to feel safe and protected by standing on guard for them. While, big, burly bikers aren’t the first group you’d think of as a safety net, for children in their care, they are the perfect group to empower the victims.

“We want the child to feel safe and know that they are part of our family,” said Safety, a member of the local chapter, who goes by his road name to protect his identity.

BACA started in 1995 by a clinical child therapist in Utah and has grown to provide services in eight countries around the world. Locally, 14 members of the Brandon chapter include individuals from Dauphin, Brandon, Virden, Miniota, Souris and Shilo who have spent the past year and a half in training to provide the service. Both Brandon and Winnipeg are in the process of setting up BACA chapters. As a temporary chapter, the local group will continue training to reach a full chapter status in the future.

“Once a perpetrator has been charged, the guardian of the child will contact our hotline and a meeting will be set up with our child liaison,” explained Safety. “We find out the needs of the child and two members are assigned as primary contacts for that child.”

Each child is given a road name and a vest complete with the BACA patch depicting a closed fist with a skull and crossbones surrounded by chains. The logo holds a lot of significance for the group. The colour red is for the blood shed by wounded children, white represents their innocence and black refers to the dark times they go through. The fist represents BACA’s commitment to stop child abuse and the skull and crossbones is the symbol of the death of that abuse. The chains meanwhile, represent the united organization.

When the child is welcomed into the BACA family they are also given a teddy bear that has been hugged by each member, filling it with love and courage that is passed to the child.

“We let them know that we are there for them no matter what and that they are part of our family,” said Safety.

The bottom line for the group is to make the children feel safe.

“If there is a child who isn’t sleeping we will station members outside their home 24/7 until they feel safe,” he said. “We will take them to and from school and we’ll go to court with them so they feel empowered.”

Each member has been given extensive background checks and training to handle any type of situation that may arise.

“We are there for the child and don’t care about the perpetrator,” he said, explaining that the group will avoid confrontations with the perpetrators and would never do anything to jeopardize the court case for the child.

While each member of the group has joined for their own personal reasons, Safety said past experiences often encourage people to step up. Safety and his wife have eight children and several grandchildren of their own and BACA gives them the opportunity to give back.

“Kids should have fun, not be put through hell,” he said. “There are children who are sleeping with their clothes on and who don’t feel safe and that’s not right. This is our way to help.”

While the tough exterior of long beards and tattoos can be intimidating, the focus of the group is the safety and well-being of the children.

“People wonder about us but we are not vigilantes,” said Safety.  “We have gone through extensive training and we promise to do anything in our power to keep the children safe.”

For more information on BACA visit the group’s website at www.bacaworld.org or call the local hotline at 204-724-8351. An information meeting is scheduled for Feb. 21 at 2 p.m. at Future Features, located at 436 Seventh Avenue in Virden.

ACLU Seeks Facts on Abuse of Immigrant Kids

Courthouse News Service
Wednesday, February 11, 2015

PHOENIX (CN) – The Department of Homeland Security blew off FOIA requests for information on the abuse of immigrant children in immigration custody, the ACLU claims in court.

The ACLU sued the DHS and its creatures, Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, on Wednesday in Federal Court.

In its December 2014 FOIA request, the ACLU says, it sought “to shed light on longstanding allegations of abusive treatment of children by Border Patrol, including prolonged detention in degrading and inhumane conditions, as well as DHS oversight agencies’ handling of those allegations.”

None of the agencies have responded, the ACLU says.

“This case is about the systemic failure of multiple institutions to protect some of the most vulnerable among us,” ACLU of Arizona staff attorney James Lyall said in a statement. “Under any reasonable definition, the neglect and mistreatment that these children experience in Border Patrol custody qualifies as child abuse, and federal officials and contractors are required to report that abuse under applicable child protection laws.”
The ACLU and other civil rights organizations sent an administrative complaint to DHS in *June 2014, claiming 116 immigrant children had been abused by the Border Patrol.

http://www.courthousenews.com/2014/06/11/68651.htm

“One quarter of these children reported physical abuse, including sexual assault, beatings, and the use of stress positions by Border Patrol agents, and more than half reported various forms of verbal abuse, including death threats,” the June complaint stated. “Many reported being denied blankets and bedding and attempting to sleep on the floors of unsanitary, overcrowded, and frigid cells.”

Eighty percent of the children said they were not properly provided with food and water, and nearly as many said they were detained for more than the 72-hour maximum. About half of the children said they were denied medical care, including a number who required hospitalization.

Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske acknowledged after the ACLU’s June complaint that the allegations regarding holding room conditions were “absolutely spot-on,” and said his agency and DHS would investigate.

In October, however, the Office of the Inspector General “reported it would be ‘curtailing routine inspections,’ and has issued no subsequent findings or taken any other public action in response to the complaint,” the ACLU says in the new lawsuit.

In fact, “Border Patrol restricts access to detention facilities such that attorneys, advocates, and family members are generally prohibited from meeting with detainees, many of whom are held incommunicado for days. Immigrant children – like all immigrants – have no guarantee of legal counsel in removal proceedings; without legal representation, children are far less likely to report abuse or pursue civil rights complaints involving government officials,” the complaint states.

The ACLU says that the volume of these complaints “point to systemic deficiencies in Border Patrol’s detention policies and practices, and yet the full extent of these problems is still unknown.”

13-Year-Old Secretly Taped in Bedroom by Father’s Best Friend

Man video taping little girl
Bradley McCollum

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When Oregon teen Madison Reed was just 13 years old, her father’s good friend and neighbor Bradley McCollum began videotaping her. This secret taping went on for four years.

McCollum, 48, hid a camera in Madison’s bedroom, pointed at her bed.

McCollum was good friends with Madison’s dad, Clark Reed. He visited their home often and even vacationed with them at the Reed family’s beach house on Cannon Beach. This adds a whole other element to this case that makes it even more upsetting. It’s a complete betrayal besides being criminal.

McCollum’s videotapes include footage of Madison at the beach house and in her bedroom over the course of four years. He was only found out because Madison’s mom saw him exit her daughter’s bedroom during a visit.

She searched the room later and discovered the video camera under papers on the desk. The family didn’t want to believe it was their friend

“We were looking for every excuse to think it was someone else until we found proof. Our world was upside down,” Reed said to KGW-TV regarding his former friend.

The hidden camera captured Madison, a minor, undressing and naked, and yet McCollum’s recordings do not constitute child pornography because of the laws in Oregon.

Madison is now 18 and she is having a hard time with this. She said, “I don’t like to think about it, but I think about it all the time — like all day. Every day. There’s no choice but to think about it”.

McCollum has been charged with felony burglary and invasion of privacy. He does not have to register as a sex offender and that just feels so wrong.

The state of Oregon is working to change their laws.

Madison is speaking out on the matter in hopes changes will be made. I also hope this family doesn’t blame themselves — something the parents may be struggling with since they believed this man was their friend.

This man needs help, serious help. And a couple of years in prison may not be enough. His sentencing is on March 4.

For now, and even after this sentencing, he is allowed to be Madison’s neighbor.

Bikers Against Child Abuse empowers young victims

Bikers against Child Abuse Bikers against Child AbuseThe group of about 25 waiting in the lobby of the Abbotsford courthouse on Tuesday morning is in stark contrast to the lawyers and sheriffs usually walking the hall.

These men and women sport denim, chaps, and black leather vests with patches bearing their “road names,” including Rebel, Animal, Wheel Man, Silver Bullet and Mama Bear.

A patch on the back of their vests reads, “No child deserves to live in fear.”

They mill about, chatting quietly, until a small group appears from one of the courtrooms and moves in their direction. The large group parts, allowing the family to sit, and then surrounds them protectively. They remain there until it is confirmed that the criminal case has been postponed for the day.

The bikers escort the distraught family out of the building and to their vehicle. The bikers mount their motorcycles and take their positions in front of and behind the family’s car, and then they all depart.

This scene marked the first time that the newly formed Fraser Valley chapter of Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA) supported a family in court.

President James “Maddog” Bergin said BACA’s purpose is to “empower” kids who are the victims of physical and sexual abuse. The organization becomes involved when a parent or caregiver contacts them. They start with an “adoption ride” in which the entire membership meets up with the family and presents the child with a teddy bear and a vest sporting their own “road name.”

Two members are assigned to become the child’s “primaries” and main contacts whom the child can call at any time. “If they’re scared at night, we’ll park two or three members outside of the home so they feel safe,” Bergin said.

BACA members also attend court, accompanying the family to and from the courthouse and sitting in the courtroom when and if the child has to testify. Bergin said this provides the child with the physical and emotional support to get through the court case and, hopefully, lead to the conviction of the perpetrator. This helps the child to feel as if he/she has “a whole army” behind him/her, Bergin said.

All BACA members must pass through a series of steps, including an extensive background check and 12 to 14 hours of webinar training. Monthly meetings and ongoing courses are also included. They are given “road names,” and Bergin jokes that some of them don’t even know each others’ real names.

Bergin said current members come from all walks of life and include business people, tattoo artists, truck drivers and mechanics. Many of them took the day off work to appear at the Abbotsford courthouse on Tuesday.

Some, like “Loki,” have their own history of childhood abuse. “Some of my past wasn’t the greatest. I’ve been abused too, so I want to give back – to make sure (the abuse) stops,” he said in explaining why he is involved with BACA.

Wheel Man said he finds his involvement rewarding. “We’re helping kids who are vulnerable and doing something that the cops can’t do,” he said.

Bergin said although bikers have a stigma of being rough, he hopes people can look beyond that image. “For the most part, we are big and scary people when it’s applicable, but we are also some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.” Bergin said Fraser Valley BACA, which formed about a year ago and is based in Abbotsford, plans to continue supporting the family who was in court on Tuesday, as well as link up with other families and agencies.

For more information or for membership inquiries, email info.fraservalleybaca@yahoo.com.

Information about BACA is also available on the website bacaworld.org. The organization has chapters throughout the world, including the U.S., Australia, Italy, Germany, France, Switzerland and the Netherlands.