The Boy with the Henna Tattoo

I wrote about a case a few years ago involving a gay couple who groomed their son for sexual abuse. Peter Truong and Mark Newton bought their son “Adam” for $8,000 from a Russian woman. When Adam was almost 2-years-old, they began sexually abusing him. They continued this for years, grooming him for sex with other men. They eventually allowed other men from their “boylover” network to have sex with their son. They would travel the world to meet these men, “sharing” Adam with them, sometimes in exchange for sex with boys in those men’s care, but often simply to allow the men the chance to have sex with Adam.

The pair recorded Adam constantly. Most of their family videos were of everyday activities. However, they also recorded their sexual abuse of their son, along with the other men’s abuse of the boy. They shared these videos and pictures among their network of pedophiles, and became rather popular.

How authorities caught them is rather elaborate. Police in two different countries stumbled onto pictures of Adam, and later an extensive pedophile network. The case hinged on identifying the boy in the pictures. The only thing the police had to work with was a mole on the boy’s stomach and a henna tattoo. These two pieces of evidence helped bring down one of the largest pedophile networks authorities have seen.

The Australian show Four Corners covered the story shortly after Truong was sentenced to 30 years in prison: Continue reading

Bulletin Board v297

Elementary School Teacher Killed in Apparent Murder-Suicide May Have Abused Multiple Kids: Reports — A Minnesota elementary school teacher and his husband, who were found dead last week in an apparent murder-suicide in Washington state, may have sexually abused multiple underage boys, according to reports. Aric Babbitt, 40, and Matthew Deyo, 36, were reportedly found dead on Lopez Island on Aug. 25, just two weeks after one of Babbitt’s former students went to police and accused him of sexual assault.

Exposed: UP’s hell prison where inmates suffer vicious torture and corruption — The crime team of India Today has unearthed a prison that has turned into a vicious hub of third-degree torture, abuse and corruption. Here, an inmate is pinned down on the ground, with his feet up and locked in bamboo sticks by fellow prisoners. Unbearable screams pierce through the large hall as a deputy jailer unleashes a flurry of club blows on his bare soles.

Family of malnourished boy found dead in Echo Park closet had been reported to social workers six times — Days apart in 2012, two teachers contacted the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services about a young boy named Yonatan Daniel Aguilar. One reported that the boy was suffering from general neglect. Another said he had a black eye. County social workers interviewed school employees, including a soccer coach and a special education teacher. Continue reading

Male prison rape survivors speak out

Originally posted on May 20, 2015

Prison rape remains a major issue in the United States. Despite the Prison Rape Elimination Act passing several years ago, states do little to reform their prison systems. Texas Governor Rick Perry has even refused to implement the changes suggested by the act.

Yet that inaction pales in comparison to how other countries view prison rape. Many countries do not acknowledge it occurs. Those that do often do nothing to curb the assaults. This is particularly true in countries where social norms prevent victims from coming forward. Such is the case in South Africa. Fortunately, there is a new effort to raise awareness:

South African prisons are notorious the world over for their endemic sexual abuse. Despite this, prisoner rape is not well understood by the South African public and government, and does not receive the serious attention it urgently needs. This is according to a report compiled by Emily Nagisa Keehn, policy development and advocacy manager at Sonke Gender Justice and Sasha Gear, programme director at Just Detention International, South Africa.

Sonke, Just Detention International – South Africa, and NICRO have partnered to increase public awareness of sexual abuse in prison. Three men came forward to share their stories about surviving rape in prison. Vincent*, Francois and Thabo* are the first South African survivors of prisoner rape to tell their stories in this way.

The three men’s stories can be viewed below. Continue reading

When facing jail time, blame the victim

In yet another case of unusual sentences, an Australian woman received two years in jail after pleading guilty to two counts of sexual penetration of a child under the age of 16:

A mother has been jailed for performing sex acts on a 14-year-old schoolboy after she initially spotted him playing football.

The 39-year-old woman, from Victoria, has been sentenced to two years behind bars, with a minimum of 10 months after abusing the boy who went to the same school as her daughter.

The sentencing comes after she pleaded guilty in a Victorian court to two counts of sexual penetration of a child under the age of 16.

The boy was just 14 years old when the then 36-year-old woman engaged in sex acts with him on two separate occasions at her home.

The Australian government typically does not charge women with counts of sexual penetration. It is uncommon for the women to receive any jail time for sex offenses at all, let alone a minimum 10-month sentence. The woman will also register as a sex offender for life. The article offers no explanation for that, and it does seem odd considering the rest of the woman’s sentence.

Of course, woman could not leave it at that. Continue reading

Not exactly a slap on the wrist

Kraigen Grooms recently received a 10-year suspended sentence after pleading guilty to engaging in a lascivious act with a child. Grooms, then 16-years-old, livestreamed himself engaging in sexual activities with a 1-year-old girl. Those watching the stream recorded it without Grooms knowledge and shared it, which eventually led to Grooms arrest. Investigators posted pictures of Grooms, then labeled as “John Doe”, in an attempt to find him. A Facebook group run by Tim Caya featured a “wanted” poster with Grooms’s pictures. Some of Grooms’s relatives saw it and reported him to Homeland Security. The federal officers arrested Grooms in 2014 andcharged with a second degree sexual assault.

Those are the basic facts of the case. What happened in the media was “TEEN RAPES BABY, GETS SUSPENDED SENTENCE!”

The headlines and social media backlash that followed display people’s worst impulses. Instead of anyone looking at why Grooms received the sentence, people went to their narratives: Pedophiles should be shot. White male privilege lets another rapist off. Fire the judge.

The media did no better. They reported the minimum amount of information, essentially the sentence and prior charges, and a great deal of misinformation. Their misinformation was so bad that an attorney from the Iowa state office released a statement clarifying why Grooms received the plea deal.

What I want to do is break down the facts of the case so people can understand why Grooms is not in prison. Continue reading

Ending the statute of limitations on sexual abuse cases

The statute of limitations in sexual abuse cases presents a problem for prosecutors. Many states limit the time a person has to report the abuse. The limits vary from state to state, yet they generally end within 10 years of the victim turning 18. This creates a confounding situation because many victims wait years to report the abuse. It is also troublesome in that each state varies how the law works.

In some states, the limitation is based on the last incident of abuse. In others, it is based on the person’s age. Illinois, where I live, uses the latter. The law currently states that people have until they are 38 to file a complaint, but only if they were born after 1981. This limit was removed to an extent in 2013. It now allows sex crimes against children to be reported at any time, however, this only applies if someone already reported the abuse or if there is evidence supporting the accusation.

The logic behind getting rid of the limitations is simple, as the Chicago Tribune explains: Continue reading

Woman receives 25-year sentence for sexual abuse

When women sexually abuse children, they usually face little repercussions. Most female abusers are not reported. Of those who are, most do not face charges. Of those who face charges or trial, most receive plea deals for lesser offenses. Of those who are convicted, most will either have the sentence suspended or receive probation. Of those who face conviction for serious offenses, most will not have to register as a sex offender. Of those who do have to register, most of them will be removed within five to ten years.

Simply put: women who prey on children get a pass.

Due to this, I do not expect to see situations like what occurred in a recent case:

A 37-year-old New Boston, Texas, woman received a 25-year sentence Friday for sexually assaulting a 13-year-old boy after the victim’s parent assured the judge it was their wish.

Kimberly Elaine Mitchell carried a box of tissue Friday morning as she walked into a first-floor courtroom of the Bi-State Justice Building for formal sentencing before 102nd District Judge Bobby Lockhart. Mitchell pleaded guilty to three felonies Wednesday and was scheduled to have a jury decide her fate in a punishment-only trial next week.

Mitchell faced multiple life sentences for the abuse. If the decision went to the jury, Mitchell could have received five years to life in prison. She chose to accept a plea bargain. The boy’s parents accepted the deal in order to spare their son the stress of testifying. The deal is unusual in that it still required Mitchell to plead to two first-degree felony charges.

This is the sort of deal that is typically offered male offenders. While I am not a supporter of long sentences, it is good to see that neither the prosecutors or judge applied a double standard in this case. Indeed, to the judge’s credit, he did not give Mitchell a pass: Continue reading