Freeh report on Penn State scandal to be released Thursday morning...
A report detailing Pennsylvania State University's liability in the handling of the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse scandal will be released Thursday, school officials said. Philadelphia Inquirer story here
The product of a seven-month internal investigation, commissioned by university trustees and led by former FBI Director Louis Freeh, the document is expected to lay out the decision-making process of top administrators who failed to report accusations made against Sandusky as early as 2001.
The findings could vindicate or further tarnish some of Penn State's most powerful figures, including former head football coach Joe Paterno and ex-president Graham B. Spanier, both of whom were dismissed by trustees, shortly after the former assistant football coach's November arrest, for not taking more action.
Sources close to the Freeh investigation have said the report's scope extends well beyond Sandusky and will include assessments of Penn State's record on handling sexual-assault cases on campus involving students, as well as the influence of athletics programs on university policy.
"We look forward to seeing the report on Thursday and reviewing Judge Freeh's recommendations," university spokesman David La Torre said.
Freeh, a former U.S. District Judge, was hired by the trustees last year in response to one of the worst scandals in university athletics. A Centre County jury convicted Sandusky of using his position to groom and molest at least 10 boys.
Trustee Ken Frazier, head of a special committee to address the crisis, said at the time that Freeh's investigators would face no impediments in determining "who knew what, when."
"We picked Judge Freeh in large part because he has no connections to the university," he said. "In fact, he has no connections to Pennsylvania to speak of. We have someone who can make a report on wherever the evidence leads."
Since then, Freeh's group has interviewed more than 400 current and former university employees ranging from trustees to janitorial workers in the campus' athletic offices.
But some, including Paterno's family, have questioned the fairness of the investigation.
On Tuesday, the late coach's family criticized a series of leaked e-mails discovered by Freeh's group that seemed to implicate Paterno, Spanier, and other university officials in a decision not to report a 2001 incident involving Sandusky and a 10-year-old boy in a football locker room shower.
"The board promised a fair, transparent, and impartial process," the family said in a statement. "These developments are a threat to their stated objections."
The family said it had asked Freeh for the opportunity to review the findings in advance and to prepare a response, but its request was rejected.
Spanier lawyer Peter Vaira also took issue with what he described as "selective leaks, without the full context."
The former president had refused to participate in Freeh's investigation until he had a chance to examine those e-mails. However, Vaira said Tuesday that Spanier had relented and submitted to a lengthy interview Friday in Philadelphia.
He has wanted the Freeh Group to create an accurate report and has been determined to assist in any way he can," Vaira said. "At no time in the more than 16 years of his presidency at Penn State was Dr. Spanier told of an incident involving Jerry Sandusky that described child abuse, sexual misconduct, or criminality of any kind."
Lawyers for Graham Spanier say the former Penn State president told investigators hired by the university that he was not told of an incident involving former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky that described child abuse, sexual misconduct or "criminality of any kind." AP story here
The Freeh report was to be released simultaneously to the public, university trustees, and law enforcement officials in a 9 a.m. posting on the website www.TheFreehReportonPSU.com.
Florida officials examining group homes after sex trafficking...
Florida child welfare officials are on the defensive this week after revelations that children in taxpayer-financed group homes are falling prey to sex traffickers. News Service of Florida story here
Miami-Dade police last week arrested four alleged pimps in an ongoing investigation of the exploitation of abused and neglected children in foster care, the Miami Herald reported last week. On Sunday, the Herald broke news of a similar set-up in Jacksonville.
In South Florida, authorities said the four men lured teenage girls into prostitution, plying them with money, gifts and personal attention. Starting in January 2011, members of the ring would arrange for the girls to have sex at a building in Homestead. The men collected the proceeds and paid the girls 40 percent. In the Jacksonville case, the teen was advertised in Backpage.com. In both cases, the alleged pimps also used teens as recruiters, police say.
Joe Follick, spokesman for the Florida Department of Children and Families, which oversees children in state custody, said the group homes are subcontractors that don't report directly to DCF.
"There is not a department employee specifically involved in these children's lives," Follick said. "We contract the care of foster children in the state to community groups who then often subcontract that work out too, whether it be group homes or case management organizations that work with these children."
Robin Hassler Thompson, an expert in human trafficking at Florida State University's Center for the Advancement of Human Rights, said it's disturbing that such crimes could happen right under the noses of so many caregivers.
"These are children who are being raped," she said. "So both the pimps and also the johns - the people who are buying sex with these children -- are raping them. It's that simple."
Florida is generally considered to be the third-ranked state in the U.S. for the prevalence of human trafficking. That's due to the many opportunities for trafficking to flourish - the large numbers of service jobs, the agricultural operations that attract migrant workers, the high transience rate, the presence of the sex industry in large cities, and the hotels and restaurants catering to the tourist trade.
In other news...
The parents of several Texas child abuse victims have filed a lawsuit against a school principal and the Plano school district accusing them of ignoring warnings about a sexual predator. ABC-Dallas story here Parents of three elementary students say administrators at Hunt Elementary in Murphy repeatedly dismissed concerns about kindergarten teacher Joseph Garbarini. Garbarini, 30, is currently serving a 62-year prison sentence after he was convicted of child sexual abuse last year. The explosive accusations involving diapers, bottles and cages horrified parents when the news broke in May 2010. In the months before his arrest however, the lawsuit said parents and teachers had unsettling suspicions about Garbarini. He was often seen tickling, hugging, photographing and encouraging young girls to sit on his lap. Yet the schoolís principal, Linda Engelking, dismissed the concerns, according to the lawsuit. "She simply did not care," lawyers wrote in the suit filed Friday in federal court in Sherman, adding that she chose "to protect the teacher and place her loyalty to him above her concerns for the minor children." The lawsuit claims Garbariniís actions so bothered parents that several asked their students to be moved to a different teacher. Lawyers allege the mother of one of the victims tried at the beginning of the school year to have her daughter assigned to a different class, but that Engelking discouraged the transfer. For more on educator abuse, visit eGuide/EducatorAbuse.
Chinese police have broken up two major child trafficking gangs and freed 181 children, officials say. BBC story here Authorities arrested 802 suspects on Monday in an operation across the country, the Public Security Ministry said in a statement. Kidnapped children are often sold for adoption, or as labour and household servants. Child-trafficking has become a serious problem in China and critics blame the one-child policy and lax adoption laws. These policies, some say, have created a thriving underground market for buying children. A traditional preference for male heirs in China has created a thriving market for baby boys, says the BBC's Martin Patience in Beijing. Women and girls are often abducted to be labourers or wives. In the latest operation, the children were rescued from traffickers in 15 regions and provinces, including Hebei, Shandong, Henan, Sichuan, Yunnan. Investigations that led to the current round of arrests began in December 2011 when four suspects were caught in Henan province while attempting to sell four babies.
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