Then The Daughter The Convicted Pedophile Raped Speaks Up
It was 1996 when police arrested Jim and Justine and charged them with prolonged sexual abuse and exploitation of their 13-year-old daughter, Amanda.
At the time, Jim claimed that he didn’t think he was doing any harm to his daughter, and that in those days, child molestation was considered “something people joke about” — citing comic book “Chester The Molester” as supposed cultural evidence of this.
But the repercussions of that abuse — which began when his daughter was just 11 — would haunt Amanda into her adulthood, sending her life sideways as she attempted to self-medicate and escape the pain.
Now, 20 years later, Amanda and her biological parents meet again — Amanda for an apology, her parents (particularly her father) forgiveness.
Appearing on Wednesday’s episode of “Dr. Phil,” Amanda says her parents would routinely photograph her in “provocative” situations and video tape her performing various sexual acts— sometimes with her father — with the plan to sell the tapes across the world.
She tells Dr. Phil: “Jim told me with the money we could make, I could go to college”
Amanda adds that she never saw any of her supposed earnings. Her mother, on stage with Amanda already, begins weeping, presumably overwhelmed with guilt and regret at her part in the abuse.
Then Dr. Phil brings out Amanda’s father. The audience is silent as he walks out, the tension at its peak.
Amanda starts in on Jim, at first tenuously, seeming to barely contain her rage:
“Where to begin?…. How could you?”
Amanda begins to ask questions directly to her father — reluctantly, at first — saying she’s “dreamed of this moment,” but adding:
“Truthfully I would have preferred if you had been six feet under.”
Jim says to Amanda as she stares at him in anger and disbelief that he’s ashamed that he only remembers abusing Amanda four or five times when it was obviously a regular routine in the family.
Looking straight at his daughter, he says:
“It should have been burned into my memory as much as it was into yours.”
As Amanda recounts how her life spiraled out of control into adulthood — addiction, work as a topless dancer, even the creation of an alter ego to escape the pain she was experiencing — it’s clear that the memories left significant scars with lasting impact.
But the most chilling moments in the episode come from a one-on-one interview with Jim taped earlier, in which the former convict claims that during the early 1990’s, “sexually abusing children were things that people winked and joked about.”
Unbelievably, he goes on to complain that he’d been “exploited, taken advantage of [and] beaten up,” in prison. He also protested that he had never been aroused by his daughter, but rather was interested in the “mechanics.”
But Dr. Phil doesn’t pull punches responding to claims that Jim didn’t know what he was doing to his daughter, saying directly to Amanda:
“To suggest that he was in an environment where parents didn’t know it wasn’t okay to rape their children is insulting your intelligence, it’s insulting to your experience, it is a complete insult to this entire experience between him and you. Now he’s either that naive, or he’s just thumbing his nose at you because that is an idiotic statement.”
To watch the entire episode, which aired on Wednesday of this week, check Dr. Phil’s website for listings.
The New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault, which collects statistics nationally, reports that 46% of children who are sexually abused are the victims of family members.
It also reports that 61% of American rape victims are raped before the age of 18, and unbelievable 29% of all rapes occurred before the victim was 11.
“I called CPS. I called the governor. I called whoever I could,” grandmother Alisa Clakely said. “I took pictures and sent them to CPS.”
In response, Clakely said CPS case workers told her they would look into the issues. But then, nothing would happen.
“If we had done something sooner, I don’t know,” Clakely said. “I don’t know.”
The child’s mother, Jeri Quezada, is being held on $500,000 bond while Charles Phifer is being held on $1 million bond.
In an arrest affidavit released last week, police allege the couple used heroin and repeatedly beat and restrained the girl before she stopped breathing, after which the child was transported to an area hospital where she was pronounced dead.
According to CPS, Leiliana’s case is being reviewed internally. A full report will be released in the next few weeks.
Alabama – District Attorney Randall Houston hopes that an early start in the effort to strengthen punishment in aggravated child abuse cases makes all the difference.
He recalls how it took three years for a bill to change the boating under the influence law to work its way through the Legislature. He pursued that bill after a series of fatal boating under the influence accidents occurred in his circuit.
“We hope Winston’s Law can make it through the House and Senate quickly this session and go on to the governor’s desk for his signature.” Houston, who represents Autauga, Chilton and Elmore counties, said. “We have picked up strong support for the bill.”
Named for the now 5-year-old boy who is at the center of a high-profile Elmore County child abuse case, Winston’s Law would make aggravated child abuse cases where the victim is 6 years old or younger a Class A felony. Reserved for the most serious crimes in the state, Class A felonies have a punishment range of 10 to 99 years to life in prison.
Aggravated child abuse is now a Class B felony, with a punishment range of 2 to 20 years in prison.
The District Attorneys Association of Alabama and Child Protect have endorsed the bill. Rep. Paul Beckman, R- Prattville, and state Sen. Clyde Chambliss Jr., R- Prattville, are sponsoring the bill.
In September Winston was found unresponsive in the back of Scott Hicks’ vehicle in the parking lot of the Bay County, Fla., courthouse, where Hicks went to clear up some unrelated warrants.
After deputies found Winston in the vehicle, Hicks, 38, was charged with aggravated child abuse. He remains in the Bay County Jail. The investigation shows that the abuse occurred in Elmore County. His mother, Hallee McLeod, 29, was recently indicted by the Elmore County Grand Jury on charges of aggravated child abuse and chemical endangerment of a child. Hicks and McLeod, boyfriend and girlfriend, are both Wetumpka residents, Houston said
She remains in the Elmore County Jail under bonds totaling $300,000, jail records show. She could not be reached for comment and courthouse records show she doesn’t have an attorney. Houston said Hicks will face similar charges in Elmore County, when the charges against him in Florida adjudicated.
Hicks was a co-owner of Spa Rejuvenate which had locations in Prattville and Montgomery. McLeod was the manager of the Prattville location. The Alabama Board of Message Therapy suspended the business license for the Prattville location and entered a non-renewal order for the license at the Montgomery location after the couple’s arrest.
At the time Sheriff Bill Franklin called the physical abuse Winston went through “the worst I have seen.”
“It certainly is the worst I have seen, where the child lived,” said Houston, a veteran prosecutor.”
Winston is now with his father, Joey Crampton, and making a “remarkable” recovery.
“Winston is in a loving, supporting environment and from all signs is doing much better than any of us could have ever hoped,” Houston said. “He has several more medical procedures that he is facing, and he may well face emotional troubles given the horrific abuse he went through.
“But now he is doing very well, and for that we are all very thankful.”
If passed, Winston’s Law will not be in effect for his case, since McLeod and Hicks were charged before the law was enacted.
“If anything good can come out of a bad situation, it is ensuring that justice is for everyone going forward,” Crampton wrote on the Facebook page JusticeForWinston. “If we can have a law that protects people, humanity, children especially, that to me is what justice is about.”
Child Abuse increases with declining economy, holiday season
It is estimated that 80 percent of all addresses have at least one sex offender within one mile and there are 266 registered sex offenders in Midland County, according to the Midland County Sheriff’s Office, and 200 in the city of Midland, according to the Midland Police Department. Search Midland’s Sex Offender registry here: http://www.sheriffalerts.com/cap_main.php?office=54759
Midland, TX – The holidays, coupled with a declining economy, brings stress to all, but it also brings a more disturbing trend: a rise in child abuse. Local agencies that provide counseling and crisis services to abuse victims say that both physical and sexual abuse cases are on the rise, but suspected child sexual abuse cases remain in the majority.
“(Child abuse) is a huge problem here and it has been for years,” said Kristi Edwards, Clinical/Operations director and counselor for Centers for Children and Families. “When times are really bad, people’s stress levels go up, their frustration goes through the roof. Kids are kids no matter what, they don’t understand that dad’s job or mom’s job is cutting hours or employees.”
Not only does an increase occur during downturns, but the advent of the holidays regardless of the economy is unfortunately a reliable predictor of spikes in child abuse, said Elisha McPeek, program director and lead forensic interviewer at the Midland Rape Crisis and Children’s Advocacy Center.
“The boom starts to bust, things become tight, families become stressed, and physical and sexual abuse tends to go up,” McPeek said. “When Christmas comes, kids are out of school, these things go up as well.”
Child sexual abuse is suspected to be vastly underreported for the most part. So far this year, MRCCAC has performed forensic interviews with 504 children for alleged physical and sexual abuse, observing homicides and other court cases.
Of that number, 319 have been suspected sexual abuse cases. In 2014, there were 542 children interviewed total, with 352 for suspected sexual abuse.
“Child sexual abuse exists in Midland as much as people don’t want to admit it does,” said Paula Cox, MRCCAC education director. “We’re not any different from the rest of the country. Horrible things happen in this area, too.”
Cox hasn’t seen noticeable progress when it comes to lowering child sexual abuse rates here over the past few years.
“It’s a bigger issue absolutely than people realize,” McPeek said. “And if kiddos are not receiving support and therapy and intervention it will cause issues for them later in life.”
Permian Basin Community Centers psychiatrist Mark Luley said a large number of the patients he sees in the Bridges Behavioral Health Clinic are coming in with mental health issues related to childhood sexual abuse.
“In our clinics we see a lot of PTSD,” Luley said. “There’s a huge trend here. If you suffer from PTSD or depression as a child, you’re more likely to use alcohol. My clinic certainly has a lot of alcohol dependence, a lot of cocaine dependence, and what’s really concerning is the synthetic canniboids. Generally a lot of (the PTSD and substance abuse) is related to childhood sexual abuse and mental abuse during childhood.”
Texas law defines sexual abuse of a child “any sexual conduct harmful to a child’s mental, emotional or physical welfare as well as failure to make a reasonable effort to prevent sexual conduct with a child. A person who compels or encourages a child to engage in sexual conduct commits abuse, and it is against the law to make or possess child pornography or to display such material to a child.”
No matter the severity of the abuse, the consequences on the victim’s mental and physical well-being can be detrimental. The fact that 98 percent of sexual abuse perpetrators are family friends, relatives or otherwise known and trusted by the child, only adds to the devastation that the abuse can inflict and the effort made to keep it secret.
“Childhood sexual abuse can be an underlying issue in many later problems in adulthood,” wrote Bridges Behavioral Health Clinician Amber Hoelscher in an email. “I have seen it manifested through depression, anxiety and addiction, just to name a few. Many adults may not make the connection that the abuse from their past is still bothering them in their current daily lives.”
Centers for Family and Children serves clients age 3 and up. Of their clientele, more than 50 percent report some kind of sexual abuse, and 25 percent will report some type of childhood sexual abuse, Edwards said.
“Whenever you’ve had severe childhood sexual trauma, just like PTSD in veterans, it colors everything you do,” Edwards said.
However, many adults don’t see the issues they’re struggling with as PTSD, identifying it as depression, anxiety or an inability to sleep due to nightmares, Hoelscher said. But the symptoms often manifest in full-blown PTSD or varying degrees of a stress disorder.
“The people we work with say they can’t go anywhere without knowing where the exits are,” Edwards said. “It affects your relationships, your ability to pay attention. A lot of people will say they’re afraid they’ll lose their job because sometimes when they’re in the middle of something they’ll have some kind of anxiety and they don’t want to tell people why –that it’s because they were raped or molested as a child.”
With any kind of abuse, victims often report feeling shame. But with sexual abuse, that level of shame has a different tone.
“That’s happening before you even know what sex is about,” Edwards said. “Somebody that’s touching you, either hurting you or saying you love me so trust me, or don’t tell or I’ll hurt you or your family. That messes you up. But there’s also pleasure associated with sexual stimulation. So that can also cause the shame. Yes, it did feel good, or yes, I had an orgasm. But you know it’s wrong because it was with a brother or an uncle or dad or a trusted baby sitter or whatever. Almost everybody who’s experienced some type of sexual abuse says it’s difficult to be emotionally connected with other people.”
Victims of sexual abuse are often “groomed” to not tell, or to feel that the abuse is their fault. This can keep a child from making an outcry, and thus, reporting by outsiders becomes essential.
“Whether you’re a parent, teacher, coach, youth pastor, it’s really about getting to know your kids and allowing them to talk to you,” Cox said. “If they once were very happy child, an extrovert, and then all of a sudden they go into their shell, or they don’t want to go to school or go home or have unexplained bruises or injuries. All of these signs don’t necessarily mean they’re being abused, but something’s going on, so whether or not it’s abuse, it’s something you need to have a conversation about.”
If there’s any suspicion at all, it’s worth it to report it, Cox said.
“A lot of people say, what if I’m wrong? What if nothing is going on? OK, but what if there is? That’s what you need to focus on. Not whether the kid or the mom is gonna be mad at you because I would much rather deal with somebody hating me than to know I didn’t do something when a child is being abused.”
One in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys is sexually abused before their 18th birthday, according to Children’s Advocacy Centers of Texas. Conversations about what inappropriate touching is has to happen earlier, Edwards and Hoelscher said.
“The schools teach stranger danger, good touch bad touch, etc., but some of those classes don’t start until you’re in junior high,” Edwards said. “We’ve gotta start younger. I’m gonna say 2 and 3 is probably an age in which we need to start giving voice to these kids. They start knowing what their private parts are, so we start saying we don’t show those in public, we don’t touch those in public. So to me a natural extension of that is, no one else looks at those, no one else touches those.”
The healing process from sexual abuse can be long and difficult, but there is a way to find peace in a healthy way, local professionals said. Truly healing from sexual abuse often requires the help of a professional.
“We build on successive experiences,” Edwards said. “If your early childhood is successive experiences of physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, that’s all you’ve got in your head and every memory that’s connected to takes you back to something like that. There’s no foundation of safety and control.”
Many who have experienced childhood abuse fall into reckless and dangerous behavior when they get older, such as self-harming behaviors, substance abuse and sexual promiscuity.
“It can be that they think they don’t deserve any better,” Edwards said. “Who’s gonna ever want me? Is this ever gonna be an act of love for me because it’s never been an act of love? It’s always been an act of ‘they’re more powerful than I am, I’m helpless.’ It makes you feel powerless, dirty, ruined, shamed. It affects you in your job, your relationship with your children, your friends, the way you feel about yourself. It affects your spirituality because people say how could God love me?”
A foundation of self-love, security and trust takes time to build.
“A large percentage of the population we see has a hard time coming to grips with some of the things that have happened to them before, and I think they try to block off those thoughts, and, as a result, don’t seek treatment,” Luley said. “A large percentage of our population (in Bridges Behavioral) has childhood PTSD and they’ve never received treatment for the things they encountered when they were young, be it mental, physical, or sexual abuse. And those are things that really require treatment.”
Have you experienced childhood sexual, physical or emotional trauma? Have you found a way to heal? If you’d like to share your story, please email reporter Erin Stone at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Centers for Children and Families
Location: 1004 N. Big Spring St., Ste 325
Midland Rape Crisis and Children’s Advocacy Center
Services: Forensic interviews and crisis intervention services, free counseling for victims of all ages and their families, and group therapy.
Location: 1700 N. Big Spring St.
Contact: 432.682.7273 answered 24 hours a day
Permian Basin Community Centers
Services: Mental health services, intellectual and development disability services, substance abuse/chemical dependency, early childhood intervention, HIV services, Veteran’s services.
Location 401 E. Illinois Ave.