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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE UNITED STATES DEPT OF JUSTICE AS IT STEPS INTO BROOKLYN TO PURSUE SEX ABUSE IN OUR COMMUNITIES


            
 Truth will spring from the earth; 
 Justice will look down from heaven. Psalms 85:12
 אמת מארץ תצמח וצדק משמים נשקף

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 25, 2012

       We as advocates have been calling for federal intervention into sex crimes in Kings County for the past two years. The intimidation and harassment of victims reporting crimes have reached a level of the victims being persecuted twice...once by the perpetrator... and again by certain members of the community. Today the Voice of Justice welcomes the United States Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation into the new era of the pursuit of justice for victims of sexual abuse crimes in Kings County. We will continue to work with all state and federal agencies to ensure the protection of our precious children.

PRESS RELEASE

BROOKLYN MAN CHARGED WITH TRANSPORTING A MINOR IN INTERSTATE COMMERCE TO ENGAGE IN SEXUAL ACTIVITY

Defendant Allegedly Took Victim to Atlantic City
                                                                      
A complaint was unsealed this morning in federal court in Brooklyn charging Andrew Goodman with transporting a minor in interstate commerce to engage in sexual activity.1 Goodman’s initial appearance is scheduled later today before United States Magistrate Judge Cheryl L. Pollak, at the U.S. Courthouse, 225 Cadman Plaza East, Brooklyn, New York.
The charge was announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Janice K. Fedarcyk, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office.

As alleged in the complaint, in February 2010, Goodman traveled with the then 15-year-old victim to Atlantic City, New Jersey. While there, Goodman sexually abused the victim in a hotel room.

“The prevention of sexual exploitation of children is a priority of this office,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. “Those who would take advantage of children are on notice that they will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.” Ms. Lynch extended her grateful appreciation to District Attorney Charles J. Hynes and the Kings County District Attorney’s Office for their assistance in this case.
FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Fedarcyk stated, “Those who sexually exploit children will be held to justice for all the crimes they commit under both federal and local laws. In this case, Mr. Goodman allegedly transported a minor across state lines with the intent to sexually abuse a child. The FBI and our law enforcement partners remain committed to protecting children from predators.”
If convicted, the defendant faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment and a maximum of life imprisonment.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Tyler Smith.
The Defendant:

Name: ANDREW GOODMAN
Age: 27
_____________________________
1The charge is merely an allegation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.




Friday, July 13, 2012

HOW THE FREEH REPORT CAN BRING CHANGE TO NEW YORK CITY AND THE WAY WE DEAL WITH CHILD ABUSE IN PRIVATE INSTITUTIONS


By  Marci A. Hamilton      JULY 13, 2012

Marci A. Hamilton is a leading church/state scholar, author of “Justice Denied” & “God vs. the Gavel” & litigates clergy sex abuse and religious land use cases.                            

What the Freeh Report Does—and Does Not—Tell Us About Child Sexual Abuse at Penn  state

 http://www.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=720884&playlistId=1.878818&binId=1.810401

As Freeh noted at his press conference and repeatedly in the Report, these four men put the image of Penn State and Penn State football ahead of the safety of children.  They were callous, reckless, and wrong.
In the words of the Report, “In order to avoid the consequences of bad publicity, the most powerful leaders at the university—Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley—repeatedly concealed critical facts relating to Sandusky’s child abuse.”  We have heard this song before in the Roman Catholic Church, among other institutions.  Just the names have changed.
The Freeh Report Rightly Places a Share of Blame Upon Paterno—as Well as on Spanier, Schultz, and Curley
Anyone who wants to continue romanticizing Paterno’s role must stop now: According to Freeh, Paterno “was an integral part of this active decision to conceal.”
With such a finding now having been made by such an unimpeachable investigator, Penn Staters like myself must learn to live with what Catholics have been dealing with for the last decade: the realization that the men we have idolized are just humans after all.  Let’s face it:  humans must be held to account for their mistakes.
The Penn State culture and these four men in particular, the Freeh Report concludes, “empowered Sandusky to attract potential victims to the campus and football events by allowing him to have continued, unrestricted and unsupervised access.”  The Penn State football culture and these men “provided Sandusky with the very currency that enabled him to attract his victims.”
Beyond pointing an accusatory finger at these four men, the Freeh Report roundly condemns the insular environment of the Penn State football program, and of the University, which led them to be unaccountable when it came to addressing basic safety concerns regarding children.  This is the same pattern that we have seen repeatedly in institutions dealing with child sex abuse.  When the institution at issue is so self-referential that it keeps its own secrets in order to protect its external image, the vulnerable get swept aside.  Whether those in power are too busy or too self-important, they let themselves act in an inhumane fashion.  The same pattern was most recently identified in Brooklyn, New York, where even the District Attorney had allegedly cooperated for years to keep the identities of child abusers in the insular ultra-Orthodox Jewish community secret.  Institutions exist to perpetuate themselves, and insularity sends that instinct into hyperdrive.
The Freeh Report on Penn State is a blockbuster, but it is also just the beginning of the journey to justice for the victims of Penn State’s, Second Mile’s, and Sandusky’s criminal behavior.  No one should take the Freeh Report as the last word, because a criminal trial against Schultz and Curley (and perhaps even Spanier, as well) will be held later this year.  (Paterno, as readers may recall, passed away before criminal charges could be filed.)  The criminal justice system will provide even more information on, and even more transparency with respect to, these men in power and this institution.  And then there will be the long trail of civil lawsuits that will doubtless be filed by the many survivors of this conspiracy to endanger children.
The Freeh Report’s Recommendations
For the full recommendations of the Freeh Report, readers may want to look at Chapter 10 of the Report, which begins on page 127.  Here are the recommendations, in summary:
The Freeh Report states that the Counsel, meaning Freeh himself, gave the PSU Board of Trustees about 15 recommendations, back in January of this year, which have already been at least partially implemented. Those recommendations are designated by asterisk in the Report.
Then, yesterday, Wednesday July 12, the Counsel put forth approximately 120 additional recommendations, issuing them along with the full Report.  The recommendations are broken down into eight broad categories: (1) Penn State Culture; (2) Administration and General Counsel: Policies and Procedures;  (3) Board of Trustees: Responsibilities and Operations; (4) Compliance: Risk and Reporting Misconduct; (5) Athletic Department: Integration and Compliance; (6) University Police Department: Oversight, Policy and Procedures; (7) Management of University Programs for Children and Access to University Facilities; (8) Monitoring Change and Measuring Improvement.
The Recommendations are addressed to Mr. Freeh’s client: Penn State.  They lack the kind of larger picture that is provided by, for example, the 2005 Grand Jury Report
documenting the coverup of child sex abuse by the Philadelphia Archdiocese, which I have discussed in this prior column.  In that Report, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office suggested a series of legal reforms for the protection of children.  The Freeh Report regarding Penn State, in contrast, does not take that step.
This omission—which is somewhat surprising given Louis Freeh’s former position as Director of the FBI—is a reminder that this was a report paid for by a singular client, and not a broad-ranging inquiry by an office accountable primarily to the public.  Thus, no one should ever take the Freeh Report as the final word on what must be done to protect children across society, or even, arguably, at Penn State.
The Narrow Scope of the Freeh Report:  We Do Well to Remember That It Was Commissioned by Penn State, and That It Only Covers Certain Years of Sandusky’s Abuse
As scathing as the Freeh Report is, its scope is also relatively narrow.  It is limited to the years that the public already knew about: 1998 to the present.  The grand jury report that led to the trial of Sandusky, at which he was convicted on 45 of 48 charges for child sex abuse, covered these years alone.  But we know from both the Sandusky grand jury report and the evidence that came out at trial that the elements of Sandusky’s victimization of children were in place well before 1998.
Sandusky started coaching at Penn State in 1969.  His charity, The Second Mile, from which he plucked boys who were in precarious family situations, was established in 1977.  One victim after another testified at Sandusky’s trial how they had been identified through the Second Mile, and then groomed, and ultimately abused by Sandusky.  Freeh knew all of this, which is confirmed in the Report.  And yet the Report is conspicuously silent on the years of 1977-1997, making no findings and drawing no conclusions regarding Sandusky, and his involvement with children on campus or otherwise.
Nor is there mention in the Freeh Report of The Second Mile’s activities on the campuses of Penn State, or its involvement with the football program, from 1977 to 1995.  The Report does establish that Penn State changed its policies regarding children on campus several times.  In 1992, Penn State adopted a new policy regarding “minors involved in University-sponsored programs or youth programs held at the University or housed in University facilities,” which is telling.  Furthermore, that new policy was revised several times, and was conspicuously revised yet again in April 2012, to include the phrase “at all geographic locations.”
Freeh also knew, through the criminal trial of Sandusky, that the modus operandi that had occurred at Penn State had continually repeated itself.  Why would Freeh’s team think that Sandusky suddenly started behaving  this way 30 years after he started working for Penn State?  I sincerely doubt that the team did.  After all, Kenneth Lanning—who was the FBI’s premier child sex abuse expert for 30 years, including when Freeh was Director—documented that abusers typically have many victims, over many years, and abuse over the course of their lives.
Moreover, Freeh also must have known, when he took on the task of researching and completing his Report, about the well-documented patterns abuse in the Roman Catholic Church, the ultra-Orthodox and Orthodox Jewish faith, the Boy Scouts, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints—not to mention in the Fundamentalist LDS—the Citadel, Syracuse University, and many other institutions.  Surely, he put two and two together to conclude that 1998 did not initiate Sandusky’s reign of abuse.  Therefore, perhaps the fault for the limited scope of the report should be laid at Penn State’s feet.
In the end, the Freeh Report interprets the data available to date, and tells the story that was already emerging through the criminal justice system.  It was important for that story to be told in the way that Freeh told it, bluntly and unforgivingly.  But that still leaves a grave and important question to pose to Penn State, my alma mater: What happened between 1969 and 1998?

Friday, July 6, 2012

WHY WE NEED BACKGROUND CHECKS AND FINGERPRINTING OF ALL STAFF AT ALL PRIVATE SCHOOLS


Moshe Pinter chaperoned troubled teens on weekend trips
By Reuven Blau / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Thursday, July 5, 2012, 7:43 PM
Moshe Pinter accused of raping a young boy has been working at a Brooklyn yeshiva for troubled teens
A Borough Park man accused of raping a young boy has been working at a Brooklyn yeshiva for troubled teens - and the city’s Probation Dept. never barred him from contact with minors. 
Moshe Pinter, 28, was arrested and charged with a trying to molest a 13-year old boy in 2007, but pled down the top felony charge to a misdemeanor child endangerment offense after the victim declined to testify against him, according to court records and sources....
Pinter was sentenced to three years of probation, but was not barred from working with inors.
For the past year Pinter has been working at Ohr Hameir Yeshiva in Borough Park chaperoning Hasidic teens on weekend getaways while parents had no idea of his criminal past - which also includes two theft convictions.
“It's scary. My parents fell for it. They had no idea. He should be a million miles away from kids,” said the brother of a former student at the Tenth Ave. school. “They put him right back in the community.”
After an inquiry from the Daily News, a Probation Dept. spokesman said the agency is “investigating” Pinter’s role at the school.
“It is within the Department of Probation’s authority to determine whether Mr. Pinter is engaged in suitable employment and we have informed him that he is not permitted to have any contact with minors at [the yeshiva] while we investigate the situation,” department spokesman Ryan Dodge said.
Pinter did not respond to calls seeking comment. His lawyer, Kenneth Gribetz said Pinter “was never an employee of the school. He volunteered there.” Parents say he repeatedly identified himself as an “administrator.”
Child victim advocates said the case highlights the need for private schools to be legally obligated to run fingerprint and background checks on employees and for Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes to publicize the names of convicted perpetrators in the Jewish community.
Hynes has repeatedly refused to list the names of Jewish sex crime offenders, arguing it would lead to the underage victims being outed in the tight knit Orthodox community.
Victim advocates counter that past cases have shown the kids names are known in the community regardless, while their molesters and the details of the charges often stay secret.
Ohr Hameir touts itself as a haven for troubled Hasidic teens who have been tossed from mainstream religious schools, a group particularly vulnerable to sexual predators.
“It's beyond sickening. You take a guy with a criminal background and put him in touch with the most vulnerable kids,” said Mark Meyer Appel, founder of Voice of Justice, a child advocacy group.
Pinter pled guilty to grand larceny charges last March and faces up to 15 years in prison at his October sentencing.
rblau@nydailynews.com

WEATHER ALERT KEEP COOL AND KEEP A EYE OUT FOR THE FRAIL, OLD AND AT RISK POPULATION


Health Department Urges New Yorkers to Take Precautions and Help The Vulnerable During Extreme Heat
                     Use Air Conditioning to Stay Cool, Drink Water to Avoid Dehydration, Check on Vulnerable Family, Friends, and Neighbors

Cooling Centers Remain Open Citywide Through Saturday

July 6, 2012 – The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene today warned New Yorkers of health risks from the dangerously hot weather forecast for tomorrow, following several days of hotter than normal weather. The National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat watch for tomorrow, with temperatures forecast to reach near 100 degrees and humidity that will make it feel even hotter. The Health Department urges New Yorkers to take precautions to prevent serious illness that can result from the heat, especially among vulnerable individuals such as seniors and those with chronic health problems or mental disability.
“Prolonged heat exposure can kill,” said Health Commissioner Thomas Farley. “There are hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who are vulnerable because of age or health conditions. After several days of hotter than normal summer weather and more extreme heat on the way, it is important for New Yorkers check in on your vulnerable family, friends, and neighbors, especially if they don’t have air conditioning or live alone. Make sure they are in an air-conditioned place and they’re staying hydrated.”
New Yorkers are advised to use air conditioning to stay cool, go to a place that has air conditioning if it is not available at home, and drink water at regular intervals. Those going outdoors should limit strenuous activity and avoid exercise during the hottest parts of the day.

City cooling centers will remain open through Sunday to help New Yorkers stay cool. Cooling centers are public places, such as Department for the Aging (DFTA) senior centers, and New York City Housing Authority and Salvation Army community centers, where air conditioning is available. To find the cooling center closest to you and to check center hours, call 311 (TTY: 212-504-4115) or search “Cooling Center Locator” at www.nyc.gov.

FACTS ABOUT HEAT ILLNESS
Heat illness is serious. Prolonged exposure to the heat can be harmful and potentially fatal. The added stress caused by heat can also aggravate heart or lung disease even without symptoms of heat illness. On average, heat waves kill more Americans than other natural disasters. The risk for getting sick during a heat wave is increased for people who:
  • Do not have or do not use air conditioning

  • Are age 65 or older

  • Have chronic medical or mental health conditions or a developmental disability or dementia

  • Take certain medications, which can disrupt the regulation of body temperature

  • Are confined to their beds, have trouble with being mobile, or are unable to leave their homes

  • Are overweight or obese

  • Consume alcohol or illegal drugs.
Know the warning signs of heat stress:
If you (or someone you know) feels weak or faint, go to a cool place and drink water. If there is no improvement, call a doctor or 911.
Call 911 immediately if you have, or someone you know has:

  • Hot dry skin OR cold clammy skin

  • Trouble breathing

  • Rapid heartbeat

  • Confusion, disorientation, or dizziness

  • Nausea and vomiting
Ready New York - Beat the Heat Tips:
  • Use an air conditioner if you have one.

  • If you do not have an air conditioner, go to a cooler place such as an air-conditioned family’s, friend’s or neighbor’s home, store, mall, museum, or movie theater, or, visit a cooling center.

  • Check on your at-risk family, friends and neighbors often and help them get to a cool place.

  • Fans alone will not keep you cool when it is really hot outside.

  • Conserve by setting your air conditioner to 78 degrees and only cooling rooms you are using when you are at home.

  • Never leave children, pets, or those who require special care in a parked car.

  • Avoid strenuous activity, or plan it for the coolest part of the day, usually in the morning between 4 a.m. and 7 a.m. or in the evening. If you exercise, drink two to four glasses of cool, nonalcoholic fluids each hour. A sports beverage can replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat. If you are used to regular exercise, just keep in mind the symptoms of heat illness when exercising and stop or rest if any occur.

  • Bathing or showering with cool (not cold) water can be helpful for those able to do so safely.
Spray Caps & Fire Hydrants:
Opening fire hydrants without spray caps is wasteful and dangerous. Illegally opened hydrants can lower water pressure, which can cause problems at hospitals and other medical facilities and hinder fire-fighting by reducing the flow of water to hoses and pumps. The powerful force of an open hydrant without a spray cap can also push children into oncoming traffic. Call 311 to report an open hydrant.
Hydrants can be opened legally if equipped with a City-approved spray cap. One illegally opened hydrant wastes up to 1,000 gallons of water per minute, while a hydrant with a spray cap only puts out around 25 gallons per minute. Spray caps can be obtained by someone 18 or over, free of charge at local firehouses.
For more information on the health effects associated with extreme heat search “heat illness” at www.nyc.gov/.



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