About Toysoldier

Jacob Taylor is a freelance writer and advocate for male victims of sexual violence. He blogs on Toy Soldiers.

The politics of private prisons and child abuse

Minnesota’s largest prison for boys currently faces investigation over covering up allegations of sexual abuse. A staff member reported the allegations to her superiors, yet nothing was done to address them. The facility never reported the incidents to the state authorities, which violates state law. When the state began to investigate the allegations, it appears the people running the private prison Mesabi Academy used their political connections to quell the inquiry:

After Mesabi Academy objected to a certain investigator being on the case, St. Louis County removed him. When the county alerted two other counties it had “health and safety” concerns about the facility, Mesabi threatened to sue. And shortly after a St. Louis County official announced the contract was ending, a powerful politician intervened on Mesabi’s behalf and expressed concern about potential job losses at the Iron Range facility. The contract was renewed.

n Friday, county officials said they had closed their six-month investigation into Mattson’s allegations without determining any maltreatment had taken place. They said they had insufficient evidence.

But St. Louis County also confirmed Mesabi Academy didn’t report several allegations of sex abuse to authorities. State law required the academy to report such allegations to St. Louis County Child Protection or law enforcement within 24 hours of being told.

In all, the county said Friday it had closed its investigation into 20 allegations of maltreatment over the past 14 months, saying in each case that maltreatment could not be determined.

In at least three of those cases, it was clear that Mesabi Academy knew of allegations but did not report them to the county. It’s not clear how many others it kept secret.

There is a big enough problem with abuse in juvenile prisons to begin with it. Private prisons do not necessarily improve the situations because they have a completely different incentive to protect their reputation. Many of these prisons are run by corporations that operate several prisons. One black mark on one prison can affect their ability to create or continue to operate the others. Continue reading

Confronting the stigmas of male victimization

A recent article on Sheknows tackled the issue of the stigmas male domestic violence victims face. Author Cailyn Cox noted:

When we hear of a female victim of domestic abuse, we are sickened, horrified and angry, but is the reaction the same when the victim is male?

More than 700,000 men a year are believed to fall victim to violent attacks from their partners, but according to The Telegraph, many of these acts go unreported, as men fear the consequences of reporting the offence.

Such consequences include shame and embarrassment, which stem from the stigma attached to the abuse, as well as fear that they themselves may be arrested after their abusers make false accusations in retaliation.

Dr Jessica McCarrick, a senior lecturer in counselling psychology at Teesside University, carried out a study on male domestic violence victims, and her report revealed that men were often “treated with suspicion by the criminal justice system” — the very system they are meant to be relying on for protection.

Wherever would they get such a notion? Surely no country, such as Australia for example, would have it written into their general policy to treat male victims of domestic violence as abusers until proven otherwise: Continue reading

Stop The Abuse: The Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted

Often times people want to help others but do not know how. This cannot be any truer than when it comes to helping abused men and boys. The resources sometimes are not apparent and are often difficult to find. Sometimes the resources are hidden or even barred by other groups who wish to polarize the issue. The intent here is to provide those who wish to help male victims with the opportunity to do so. Every month I will post a new link to an organization that provides services for male victims. As the list grows, I will create a page where all the links can be found.

Please remember that you do no have to empty your wallets to help. Even a small donation can go a long way. And for those on the other side of the issue, it would go a long way to demonstrating real concern for all victims if you donated as well.

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The Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted

The Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted (AIDWYC) is a Canadian volunteer organization dedicated to preventing and rectifying wrongful convictions.

AIDWYC was founded in 1993. It is the direct successor to the Justice for Guy Paul Morin Committee, a grassroots organization that formed to support Guy Paul Morin immediately following his wrongful conviction in 1992.

When Guy Paul Morin was released on bail in February 1993 pending his appeal, this Committee reconstituted itself as AIDWYC, with the goal of acting in defence of all persons who have been wrongly convicted.

AIDWYC has two broad objectives: first, eradicating the conditions that can cause miscarriages of justice; and second, participating in the review and, where warranted, correction of wrongful convictions.
AIDWYC is a primarily voluntary, non-profit organization. At this time, AIDWYC’s focus is limited to murder convictions only.

Please donate and help make a difference.

Bulletin Board v289

Boys’ boarding school Teacher Alan Morris had sex with pupils at Bethany School in Curtisden Green, Goudhurst — A teacher comforted a boy who was being bullied at a private boarding school but then sexually abused him while plying him with alcohol, a court heard. Alan Morris also had sex sessions with another boy in a shower after they played squash together. Now 71, he denied committing the historic abuse at Bethany School in Curtisden Green, Goudhurst, but was convicted.

Defining rape as gender neutral — Under section 375 of the Penal Code of Bangladesh, 1860; rape occurs when a man has sexual intercourse with a woman under one of the circumstances like, against her will, without her consent, when her consent has been obtained by putting her in fear of death, or of hurt. The rape also occurs in the situation like when a man approaches with her consent and he knows that he is not her husband, and that her consent is given because she believes that he is another man to whom she is or believes herself to be lawfully married, with or without her consent, when she is under fourteen years of age.

Former church youth volunteer pleads guilty to sexual abuse, facing 171-489 years in prison — A former Bluefield church youth volunteer pleaded guilty Monday morning to charges he sexually abused teen boys. Timothy Probert, 57, of Princeton, pleaded guilty to 37 charges, including first-degree sexual abuse, third-degree sexual assault, second-degree sexual assault, first-degree sexual assault, sexual abuse by a parent, guardian or custodian and one count of delivery of a controlled substance. Continue reading

Best plea deal ever

“They will have spent more time incarcerated for petty crimes for Valerie Lieteau will for sexually abusing teenagers.”

That comment by Attorney Bruce Skaug sums up the utterly ridiculous situation in a recent child rape case:

A former juvenile corrections nurse accused of sexually abusing boys incarcerated at the facility where she worked has accepted a plea deal that rids her of a child sex charge.

Prosecutors amended a charge of sexual battery on a minor to aggravated assault Friday, the same day 41-year-old Valerie Lieteau entered her guilty plea.

Because the defendant did not plead guilty to a sexual crime, she will not be required to register as a sex offender.

That is rather curious because in most instances plea deals require one to admit to an offense. Yet for some reason the deal this woman received also her to walk without any real punishment. One would think her crimes would be benign in order to receive such a pass. They are not: Continue reading

Rethinking juvenile justice

One of my pet peeves is the way we treat children who commit crimes. For some reason, we treat them more harshly than we do adults. We feel compelled sentence them to long sentences, long mandatory minimums, and sentences with no possibility of parole. We like to charge them as adults, the younger the better, and inexplicably place children in prison with adults.

More bizarre is that we allow this to occur despite knowing what could happen to these kids. It makes no sense for us to charge 8-year-olds as adults. It makes no sense for us to imprison a 14-year-old to life without the possibility of parole. It makes even less sense to lock them in solitary confinement or sentence them to death.

The latter the Supreme Court addressed several years ago. They banned juvenile executions in 2005. However, life without parole still remained in place. Now they have struck that down as well, and made the ban retroactive: Continue reading

Being a Man: A Difficult Discussion

How do I tell him?  How much do I tell him?

I always intended to tell my godson about the things that happened to me. I see no reason to keep it from him. So much of who I am today comes from bonding with him. He deserves to know. However, the last thing I expected was to have that conversation this past weekend. Correction, the last thing I expected was that the death of a musician and one of his best songs would spur that discussion.

Prince died last Thursday. My foster father is a massive Prince fan, so our home was filled with Prince’s music over the weekend. My foster father has original vinyl pressings of Prince’s first three albums. No one was allowed to touch them, especially no one under the age of twenty. That seems petty, but he had a practical reason: none of them had ever held a vinyl record before, let alone put one on to play. The scratching potential alone was not worth the risk.

On Sunday we made it a day of Prince’s music. Like any true fan, my foster father has multiple versions of the albums, so he moved from the more fragile vinyl records to his digital collection. Since everyone was in a good mood and singing along with the songs, I decided to join in as well.

Some of the songs I had not heard in years, like Scarlet Pussy and Partyman (the best part with the latter song is that everyone but my foster father only knew the lyrics up to the point where the song ends in Batman). I am a fan of Prince’s music, primarily his music from the eighties. I always liked his videos and the few performances I got to see on television. He was a showman in the truest sense.

However, I also have an unpleasant memory involving one of his songs. That song, of course, would be the one my godson asked me to sing. Continue reading