Entries in Sex Abuse (4)


Sex Abuse Victims Protest Billy Baldwin Film

Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images(JACKSONVILLE, Fla.) -- Advocates for sex abuse victims have called on actor Billy Baldwin and his production company to cancel plans to film a movie on the grounds of a Florida evangelical church that was scarred by a child molestation scandal.

Baldwin, 48, is set to shoot the film, Blind Faith, on the campus of Trinity Baptist Church in Jacksonville, where its founder, Robert "Bob" Gray Jr., was alleged to have molested more than 20 young children in the 1970s and 1980s.

Gray was arrested in 2006, but died at age 81 before he could be prosecuted.  For 38 years, ending in 1992, when he fled the country, he led the church and its Trinity Christian Academy, where his accusers were elementary students or parishioners.

The film is not about the sex scandal, and is instead based on the true story of a high school senior who struggles to become the first blind person to play football.  Baldwin plays the coach who gave Christian inspiration to the real-life athlete Michael Chastain.

"Blind Faith is supposed to be an uplifting story meant to inspire others," leaders from the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) wrote in a letter sent on Monday. Please don't cause these victims more pain by allowing the site of their torture to profit from your movie. We beg you to consider the atrocities that these men and women suffered when considering where to shoot your film."

Officials at Trinity Baptist Church say they have not yet been contacted by SNAP, nor have they received the letter.

"We believe the movie Blind Faith, and the real life story it portrays will be an inspiration to everyone who sees it," said Daniel Riddick, the church's director of communications.  "We are privileged to be able to provide our facilities without charge to make filming of the movie in Jacksonville possible.  Trinity serves thousands of people in Northeast Florida each week through multiple ministries, and the protection of minors is a high priority in every ministry."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Hockey Star Urges Congress to Fight Child Sex Abuse

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- It is a scandal that has tainted the greatest American sports. From Penn State football to Syracuse basketball, high-profile sexual abuse cases have brought child abuse to the forefront of the national consciousness.

Now the Senate is looking for ways federally mandated programs can prevent these abuses that often persist unreported for years.

On Tuesday, Canadian hockey star Sheldon Kennedy, who was sexually abused by his junior league coach for five years, urged the Senate Subcommittee on Children and Families to confront this “nightmare” by instituting training programs for coaches, teachers and mentors who work with children.

“Too often, society’s response to child abuse is to focus on punishing the criminal,” Kennedy said in his written testimony. “Punishing the bad guys makes us feel good, but it does not fully solve the problem.”

Kennedy’s testimony comes the same day that former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, who is accused sexually abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period, waived his right a preliminary hearing to determine if there was enough evidence for a trial.

In spite of the recent uptick in high-profile child sex abuse cases, a study released by the Department of Health and Human Services shows that reported cases of abuse have actually decreased over the last five years. The report estimates that 130,000 fewer children were victimized in 2010 than in 2006.

About 9.2 percent of the 695,000 child abuses cases reported in 2010 were from sexual abuse. Slightly more than 78 percent of the victims suffered neglect and almost 18 percent endured physical abuse, according to the report.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Sexual Abuse: Does Society Train Boys to Be Silent Victims?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- When the abuse began, Paul Treml was 14 years old, a schoolboy athlete, 5-feet 6-inches tall and 115 pounds.

His abuser, he said, was a decade older and seven inches taller, a hulking ex-college athlete who almost made it to the pros and who ran the youth sports league in Treml's Pennsylvania hometown.

For 21 years after that torture ended, Treml, now 53, kept the details secret from his even closest kin.

He started smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol, trying to blot out the fear, shame, guilt, hurt and assorted confusions about his sexuality that abuse survivors and the clinicians who treat them say are particularly acute for sexually assaulted males in a culture still prone to telling boys not to cry and to always be ready to defend themselves.

Sexual predators, clinicians say, are keenly aware that those complexities fuel male reluctance to discuss what happened.

"Boys are less likely to disclose," says University of Massachusetts clinical psychologist David Lisak, who works with male victims and victimizers.  Convicted Catholic "priests understood this dynamic and picked boys partly because they are less likely to be believed," he said.

Allegations that Jerry Sandusky, the former assistant football coach at Penn State University, was a serial child molester have brought those fraught realities to the fore at a time when, by the most frequently cited reference, an estimated one in six boys will be sexually assaulted before they turn 18.

"As a kid, you're completely frightened by what's happening to you.  You don't know what to do or what to say," said Treml, a regular public speaker on sexual abuse of men and boys.

"In my mind, no one would believe me. Or they'd think it was my fault or I was asking for this or I was homosexual.  Those emotions become so powerful you become numb.  Then you just go into denial," added Treml.

While rape is traumatic for everyone, boys and men are more likely than girls or women to keep that violence to themselves for extended periods of time -- if not, forever -- and to grapple with a host of mental and emotional ills that accompany their decision, clinicians say.

"It's somehow much more shameful for a male to admit to being abused.  It not only stirs their sense of weakness about being victimized but also the whole issue of sexual attitude and identity," says Dr. David Reiss, who, during more than 25 years as a practicing psychiatrist, has mainly treated adults who were abused as children, including sexually assaulted males.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


‘Nice Guy Molesters’ Believe They’re ‘Child Lovers’

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- “I enjoy young people,” Jerry Sandusky told NBC’s Bob Costas Monday. “I love being around them.”

That was Sandusky’s explanation after being accused of 40 counts of child molestation.  He enjoys kids. He started the popular and successful Second Mile charity. He says he even felt like a kid himself sometimes.

But that "nice guy" defense is a classic tactic of a child sexual predator, said Ken Lanning, a former FBI special agent for 30 years and now a consultant in the area of crimes against children. This type of predator hones in on children who are particularly vulnerable, then gives them whatever it is they feel they’re missing. Poor? The predator will shower the child with gifts and money, Lanning said. No dad? The child molester looks to fill that void by acting as a fatherly figure.

“They call themselves child lovers,” said Lanning. ”They nurture these kids, so when someone asks, ‘Did you molest this child?’ they say, ‘I would never molest or hurt a child.’”

“In their mind, it’s not molesting, it’s love,” he said.

The defense and justification is one that has been seen before in high-profile cases of alleged child molestation. When Michael Jackson was accused of such an act, he told ABC’s Diane Sawyer in a 1995 interview that he could “never harm a child or anyone. It’s not in my heart.”

Jackson, his team and the accuser’s family came to a $20 million civil settlement.

A decade later, Jackson faced four more charges of child molesting, along with one charge of attempted child molesting and eight possible counts of providing alcohol to minors. He was found not guilty in 2005.

During the Jackson trial, Lanning recalled many of Jackson’s friends and family coming to his defense by saying, “He’s dedicated his life to children. He loves children. He’s like a child himself.”

While Lanning does not want to discourage or call into question all the good people who do work with children, especially underserved youths, he said many of Jackson’s defenses didn’t actually clear him.

“When people said he liked children more than adults and is always taking in troubled kids to his ranch, none of that means he’s not a child molester. I’m not saying he is, but that certainly doesn’t say he’s not. It fits with a consistent mold with many individuals who have this problem.”

For both Sandusky and Jackson, Lanning said, “nothing is unique about either situation when looking at child molestation charges.”

Child-lover molesters almost never use violence for sex, said Lanning. Instead, they groom and seduce and manipulate and use cooperation to get what they want out of the child.

Many victims don’t tell anyone of the inappropriate behavior because they are considered “compliant child victims.”

“A child can’t legally consent to having sex, but some of them aren’t necessarily fighting him off,” said Lanning. “They’re developmentally immature, and later they feel ashamed and embarrassed that they cooperated in their victimization.”

If parents feel suspicious, Anna Salter, a Wisconsin-based psychologist who has worked with sex offenders and victims for 30 years, said they should not feel like they need hard proof to remove a child from the situation.

“If you’re wrong, you’re wrong,” said Salter. “If you’re right, you’ve really saved the kid from severe trauma. You must act conservatively when it comes to the health and safety of children.”

“I often tell parents, if any adult wants to be around your kids more than you do, beware,” said Lanning. “And beware of anything that seems to be too good to be true.”

“Everyone is angry at Penn State, but it could happen again and we all need to understand that organizations are living organisms -- the first priority is survival,” said Salter. “People underestimate the pull to save an organization, and we have to send a powerful message that, yes, there is the desire to protect the organization, but you have an allegiance to the larger society and to children not to yield to that pull.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio