Category Archives: Abuse

Diocese Of San Jose To Release List Of All Priests Ever Accused Of Abuse

SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — In the Diocese of San Jose, officials are preparing to release a list that will include every priest in the diocese ever credibly accused of abusing minors.

It’s part of a recently announced plan in San Jose to provide better transparency.

No cameras were allowed inside the church Tuesday night during the second of three listening sessions hosted by the Diocese of San Jose.

During the session, people shared painful experiences as victims of sexual abuse and aired out their frustrations at the Catholic Church.

Dozens came to Most Holy Trinity Parish in East San Jose Tuesday night, many carrying the weight of clerical sexual abuse for years — either directly or in their families.

Parishioners also came to hold the church accountable.

John Martinez was one of dozens who addressed Bishop Patrick McGrath directly at the listening session. McGrath is the head of the Archdiocese of San Jose.

“When I was 8 years old, I was sexually abused by a relative, and I stand in solidarity with the victims of clergy abuse,” said Martinez.

When asked what he hoped the Bishop would hear at the session, Martinez said, “That he will honor his word to be transparent.”

By mid-October, the church will release a list of the names and status of every priest who has already been found to be credibly accused of abusing minors within the Diocese of San Jose.

Bishop McGrath acknowledged that the church has a long way to go to regain the trust of some parishoners.

“People have lost faith in the institution. I’m hoping they have not lost faith in Jesus the Christ. And that’s what I pray for,” said McGrath. “So, yes, it is a long road ahead, but this I hope will be the beginning of that long journey.”

It has also hired an outside firm to review all records of sexual abuse of minors, investigate the church’s handling of past abuse claims and make recommendations to improve their response to survivors of abuse.

“I think people thought that most of this had been brought to light. And it’s just very sad that it really hadn’t,” said parishioner Carolyn Verdugo. “And I hope that with all these listening sessions and with the Bishop hearing what we have to say and in other places across the United States, that things will change.”

The next and final listening session for the diocese will be held Wednesday, October 17th at Santa Teresa Parish in San Jose.

We Know Nothing about +Vigano’s Memo

I got caught last night offering a brief opinion on +Vigano’s memo and Pope Francis’ response on Facebook last night while sharing yesterday’s post about bishops who need to resign. In the Facebook post, I offered that Pope Francis’ response was underwhelming and I stand by that. To catch up, Archbishop Vigano was the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States from 2011-2016, the end of Pope Benedict’s papacy and the first few years of Pope Francis’ papacy. The Nuncio has a dual function—they are the governmental ambassador of the Holy See to the United States and he is the Pope’s representative to the United States. The Nuncio does not have any real administrative power over the Church in the U.S. He isn’t the head of the Church in the States (nor is the USCCB in most areas as far as that goes). Anyhow, +Vigano wrote a memo stating that, among other things, Pope Benedict XVI had secretly restricted then-Cardinal McCarrick’s ministry and Pope Francis reversed it. Yesterday, while in transit back to Rome after an Apostolic Visitation to Ireland, Pope Francis took questions aboard the papal flight. Here is the relevant section from Catholic News Agency‘s translation:
Greg Burke: Thanks, Holiness. Let’s go to the question from the English-speaking group. Anna Matranga from the American television, CBS.

Anna Matranga, CBS: Good evening, Holy Father.  I’ll return to the subject of sex abuse about which you’ve already spoken. This morning, very early, a document by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano’ came out. In it, he says that in 2013 he had a personal talk with you at the Vatican, and that in that talk, he spoke to you explicitly of the behavior of and the sexual abuse by former-Cardinal McCarrick. I wanted to ask you if this was true.  I also wanted to ask something else: the Archbishop also said that Pope Benedict sanctioned McCarrick, that he had forbidden him to live in a seminary, to celebrate Mass in public, he couldn’t travel, he was sanctioned by the Church.  May I ask you whether these two things are true?

Pope Francis:  I will respond to your question, but I would prefer last first we speak about the trip, and then other topics.  I was distracted by Stefania, but I will respond.

I read the statement this morning, and I must tell you sincerely that, I must say this, to you and all those who are interested.  Read the statement carefully and make your own judgment.  I will not say a single word about this.  I believe the statement speaks for itself.  And you have the journalistic capacity to draw your own conclusions.  It’s an act of faith.  When some time passes and you have drawn your conclusions, I may speak.  But, I would like your professional maturity to do the work for you. It will be good for you. That’s good. (inaudible)

Matranga:  Marie Collins said that after she met you during the victims gathering, that she spoke with you precisely about ex-Cardinal McCarrick. She said you were very tough in your condemnation of McCarrick. I want to ask you, when was the first time that you heard talk about the abuses committed the former cardinal?

Pope Francis: This is part of the statement about McCarrick. Study it and then I will say.  Yesterday, I had not read it but I permitted myself to speak clearly with Marie Collins and the group, it was really an hour-and-a-half, something which made me suffer a lot.  [The Holy Father continued on a different topic discussed during the Irish victims gathering.]

via Catholic News Agency
About +Vigano’s Memo: I don’t know. If fully accurate, it is damning. I caution that we seek verification and investigation. The more incredible the claim, the more we should be cautious to accept it or deny it at face value. As lay Catholics or file-and-rank clerics, I don’t think we know enough yet and it is incredibly confusing. Bishop David Konderla of Tulsa whom I know personally as he was the vocations director for the Diocese of Austin when I was a seminary applicant (I opted to suspend my application shortly before starting). I know him to be a wise and thoughtful priest. He published on his public Facebook page:
I count myself blessed that it was Archbishop Viganò who called me to tell me that I was appointed fourth bishop of Tulsa. The allegations he details mark a good place to begin the investigations that must happen in order for us to restore holiness and accountability to the leadership of the Church. [Emphasis mine]

Bishop David Konderla, via Facebook Sunday August 26th

A plain reading of that to me reads that he is offering his own credibility that +Vigano is a solid source. Even more surprising, Bishop Strickland of Tyler, Texas issued a letter to his entire diocese to be posted at all Masses and on all parish sites/social media accounts where he states +Viagno’s accusations are credible. +Wuerl’s spokesman has apparently confirmed that he cancelled a meeting of perspective seminarians with +McCarrick. Why would he have done that if, as he said, he wasn’t aware of allugations against +McCarrick, which +Vigano directly states that he did know? From reactions like this, wow. There must be something to this. Pope Francis has a lot of explaining to do! But, at the same time, Fr. Matt Malone, SJ, editor of the Jesuit-ran America magazine posts on Twitter a thread of various times that after these sanctions were placed on +McCarrick that +McCarrick celebrated Mass publicly and/or traveled. Some of these times included Pope Benedict and/or +Vigano. Separately, I’ve seen a photo of Pope Benedict greeting +McCarrick during his exit from the Vatican upon his resignation.

+Vigano, before being nuncio, was, in lay terms, the mayor of Vatican City and ruffled feathers. Part of these disagreements and internal battles were leaked out by Pope Benedict’s butler in an affair reported as VatiLeaks. Some opinion sites have offered that +Vigano is doing this in retribution against other Curial officials who had a hand to play in that affair. Also being reported is that +Vigano shut down an investigation and ordered letters destroyed concerning Archbishop John Neinstedt‘s mishandling of an abusive priest allowed to stay in ministry after being credibly accused and lying about it. +Neinstedt’s actions led to criminal charges being filed against the Archdiocese, which were dropped after the Archdiocese (under the leadership of a different bishop after +Neinstedt’s resignation in disgrace) admitted wrongdoing. So, +Vigano’s hands aren’t clean either. Why did he wait until now to say something? So, did Pope Francis knowingly overturned secret sanctions? Did Benedict really put the sanctions on him? Why were they secret? Were they not enforced? Is everything here fully accurate or is there another side not being told yet?
The point: There is far more unknown about what’s going on than known. Allegations need to be investigated and rushing to judgement—that Pope Francis is guilty of cover up, that +Vigano dropped a hit piece, or anything in between—isn’t what we need right now. About Pope Francis’ response: It is underwhelming. Period. He doesn’t confirm or deny anything. He says that believing the document—or not—is an act of faith. He throws this back to journalists to figure it out. He wants us to form our opinions and once we do, then he’ll say something? So, if we think he did it then he’ll admit or defend himself? If we think he didn’t do it, he’ll just stay above the fray? There are plenty of other non-answers that I would have accepted for the time being. If he would have said “While in Ireland, my focus is on this pastoral trip. The World Meeting of Families was an important gathering and the Irish people have suffered greatly at the hands of the Church. Due to the energy I put into this visit and meetings, I have not reviewed +Vigano’s memo in-depth yet. This is a serious matter and we should investigate all of these accusations.” Okay, cool. Basically a no comment yet, but we should confirm the truth. I don’t believe the Pope’s response should be read as an admission of guilt or “no content” or anything like that. But, it definitely didn’t give me anything to think that the Vatican is taking this seriously.

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Bishops Must Resign

I suggest that the Church proactively open every diocesan archive and get everything out in the open. Radical transparency is needed after realizing that a decade and a half after the sex abuse crisis exploded onto the scene, there is far more unknown than known.

Once the archives are opened and more of the truth is known, what should happen to those clerics named? For those who priests or deacons who committed abuse, the Dallas Charter (2018 revision) is good. The priest or deacon is to never serve in ministry ever again. The Church must inform local authorities so appropriate criminal investigations can occur. From my limited scope of awareness, this is something good that came out of the Boston crisis that is (generally) being followed. My home town, Wichita Falls, had the pastor removed when a review of his file revealed he had admitted in 1999 to Bishop Joseph Delaney before his ordination to the sexual assault of a minor in the 1970s. Ignoring that +Delaney ordained him after knowing about this, once the new bishop, Bishop Kevin Vann, discovered the admission in his file, he was immediately removed from ministry and the local authorities in Fort Worth and in the jurisdiction where the abuse took place were notified. These policies gave me hope that the Church was better than it was before. That the priest in Wichita Falls wasn’t realized anew until 2006 when someone happened to stumble across it only validates we need to investigate every diocese. The rules and process for what should happen to offending priests or deacons isn’t the weakness right now. It is about holding bishops accountable. Before going further, I’ve read a lot of ideas for what we should do next. “The ‘gay subculture’ in seminaries demand that we ban gay priests.” “We should end the ‘imperial episcopate’ and do away with any bishop who isn’t a residential ordinary”. I believe that this—holding bishops accountable to the decisions they have made with regard to protecting predatory and abusive priests—is too important to lump into larger conversations about long-term structural changes. As much as anyone, I’d love to have a conversation about my ideas on how to better structure parish leadership, but I don’t want to water down that we need better accountability for bishops first and foremost. “Every bishop should resign!” I don’t agree. There are bishops who are actively and openly condemning the coverups by their brother bishops and inviting authorities to investigate their own dioceses. Justice is not served by removing innocent men from office.
1. Immediately, any bishop is determined to have knowingly moved abusive priests with credible or confirmed accusations back into ministry without restriction should resign. It doesn’t matter if the moves happened before or after the Dallas charter. At this point, they should offer this of their own free will.
I am willing to give some benefit of the doubt—maybe—to bishops who, before the Dallas Charter, was informed by a treatment facility that a priest could return to ministry, then put him somewhere in restricted ministry away from children or vulnerable adults. I don’t know if there have been a case of that. If you caught your cousin stealing money from the cash register of the family business, even if you welcome him back, you’re not going to put him in front of the cash register without second thought. If you did, you’re stupid. Even without the Dallas Charter, it should be common sense that a priest who sexually abuses or assaults a minor shouldn’t be given unrestricted access to minors. Bishops who did not exercise this common sense should not be in governance. 2. Every one of these bishops should have their name and corresponding files turned over to civil authorities. Many of these cases won’t be strong enough for actual criminal prosecution, but let’s have the experts—law enforcement and prosecutors—make that call. I really don’t think any of them meant for children to be harmed, but their neglect and giving primacy to the abuser or reputation of the church is morally repugnant and should be considered criminal. 3. A canonical tribunal should be held. There isn’t a stated rule in Canon Law that covers, as far as my little not-a-canon-lawyer-mind knows, priestly transfers like this. There is the handy Canon 1399 that basically is a catch-all—do something bad and it’s really bad—then a penalty can be applied. I’m torn here because I don’t know what canonical penalties should be applied. Should he be barred from any episcopal ministry? As in, not allowed to ordain men to the priesthood (as sometimes a diocese lacking a bishop or a religious order will invite a bishop to ordain their candidates to the priesthood), etc? Retain the title or be stripped of it? Should they live private lives and not function publicly as a priest? I lean toward a suspension of episcopal ministry as the default. I hesitate to add a fourth—should a resigned/suspended bishop be put to work? Depending on his case, should he be assigned to work at one of the many parishes in America who lack a residential pastor? Or as an associate pastor at an understaffed church? Prison chaplain? I do not at all mean Cardinal Law being appointed the archpriest of St. Mary Major in Rome—a relatively cushy gig. I don’t know—just living an early retirement somewhere doesn’t feel just to me when their failure to govern is causing so much strife in the Church. There needs to be accountability structures moving forward. That’s for another piece. But first, let’s figure out everyone who we know to have been credibly accused and those bishops who allowed them to remain in the shadows.
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What Should Have Happened in 2002

In 2002, “Boston” became synonymous for “the” Catholic sex abuse crisis. The Boston Globe broke the story on how Bernard Cardinal Law, his predecessors, and others within the Archdiocese of Boston had shuffled predatory priests from parish to parish.

One notorious one, whom I intentionally am not using his name, molested over 130 children starting in the 1960s who had been removed from multiple parish and sent to “treatment” multiple times had continually been put back into ministry without informing anyone in these new assignment of the wolf in sheep’s clothing being sent in. The Church—at least some of it—was shocked and horrified. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops gathered and formulated the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, commonly known as the Dallas Charter, after the city where they had met to create it. Ironically, perhaps, Dallas itself was known already in Catholic sex abuse circles for Rudy Kos. Then-Father Kos had molested who knows how many boys, resulting in three convictions for aggravated sexual assualt and given a life sentence. Bishop Grahmann and his predecessor, Bishop Tschoepe, had heard multiple complaints. +Grahamm’s inaction included telling Kos “Stop. Don’t have little boys overnight. I’ll move you if you do.” A civil jury ordered the Diocese of Dallas pay $119.6 million— $119,600,000—to about a dozen victims for the Diocese’s gross conduct (using a couple definitions of gross there). After appeal, the final award was around $30M, which was the largest amount awarded to victims before Boston and near the top still for victims of a single predator.
The Dallas Charter was approved by the Vatican and became “particular law”, meaning it was canon law for the United States, and decreed various changes including the immediate removal from ministry of any deacon or priest credibly accused of sexual misconduct with a minor and, how most lay Catholic see it, required training and background checks for everyone volunteering in the Church in areas where they would interact with children or vulnerable adults. It was a watershed moment. Today, one thing you may hear is that as shocking and disgusting news is coming out on an almost daily basis now, is that the vast majority of these cases are from before the Dallas Charter. That’s true. It is of little comfort to me from the pews though. Why then was the Grand Jury report in Pennsylvania such a punch to the gut? The raw numbers were sickening. 300 priests, 1000 victims, just within that state (and not even every diocese, as two had previously been investigated). But to me, that wasn’t the only thing. 16 years after Boston, personally, I felt good about the Church and sexual abuse. Yes, there was a problem. We took action and created safe environments. As a Church, we are better now. That’s true. I realized how little comfort that is today though. One thing we should have done in 2002 and didn’t was to draw back the curtains everywhere. It was and has been easy to think of this as a problem in Boston. I’m naive and figured that all this was happening there. Not here. I don’t know if there was any cover-up in the Diocese of Austin or not, but after the Grand Jury report, I don’t know isn’t good enough. What we should have done and what we should do now is get every single skeleton out of the closet. Every diocese and religious order should invite, beg for, and/or hire an independent investigation of all of their archives. Every credible allegation should be published. At the end of this, there should never be another story from years ago being dripped out over the next 16 years.
Every diocese and religious order should invite, beg for, and/or hire an independent investigation of all of their archives.

The story of Holy Angels made an impact on me. As detailed by the New York Times, Fr. John David Crowley was a beloved pastor of the parish for nearly 34 years when he unexpectedly retired in 2003. He sounded like he was a good priest—welcoming, supportive of the community, well-loved. It didn’t seem to be some weird creeper or anything. Reading his bio, he sounded to be a model pastor. When the allegations about him were made known to the bishop, then-Bishop Wuerl (now the Cardinal Archbishop of Washington, DC)—on the Independent Review Board’s suggestion—offered him retirement without faculties or a canonical trial. The retirement without faculties would mean he could ride off into the sunset and then never publicly function as a priest. He was allowed to not reveal the circumstances to the parish who, understandably, protested. 2000 signatures. Some chewed out Bishop Wuerl when he visited the parish to meet with parishioners who wanted him to remain. They could tell retirement wasn’t really his idea. If I’m thinking of Fr. Crowley’s interest, it was kind of the Church to offer him a nice exit while removing him from ministry. But, the Church should not be thinking of Fr. Crowley’s interest. The Church should be interested in the poor, the marginalized, the victims. Hopefully the victims that reported him knew he was retiring for that reason, but what about any other victims of this man? I’m not an expert, but it seems to be a common thread that this is often a repeated offense when he gets away with it previously. According to the report, he was accused by two different victims. Are there others? Are there others who felt alone and thought no one would believe them against this amazing, beloved priest? How many of them were never able to process or get counseled? Did they turn to drugs or alcohol? Did they abuse people in their lives (in any form of abuse)? Who knows. It’s been 15 years since he left ministry seemingly in good standing. This is stupid. As the Church, what the hell are we doing? By having open and radical transparency, we stand with victims. They are not alone. They are loved. The Church, their community of faith that they believed in just as much as any one of us, supports them, not those the attacked them. When one victim has the courage to come forward, we should do due diligence, absolutely,  but then we should try to find any others so that we can support them too and justice can be served. Every diocese and religious order should compile a list of every credibly accused cleric and make it widely available. This would be both to encourage silent victims to know that they’re not alone and demonstrate the transparency that the laity now demand to restore credibility. The Church should do this now. We should not wait for civil authorities to want to investigate. We want this. We want to be the beacon of light we are called to be and with these sins on our corporate conscience, we won’t be.

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The Abuse Continues

The Pennsylvania Attorney General released the grand jury report looking at clerical sexual abuse across the commonwealth in six of the eight dioceses. The other two were previously investigated. In the lead up to the release, I had heard it was going to be bad. Real bad. It is. Just in Pennsylvania, 300 priests over 70 years. And while the numbers alone are horrible, I read some of the accounts; some of the details not published in the papers. I struggle to find the words. The level of sin and evil exhibited by these men is incredible. These crimes were against the weakest of us—our children. They were not the results of someone who was sick and struggling. They were not the results of someone having a moment of failure.  They were the actions of sinister men deliberately and intentionally committing some of the most egregious offenses against nature and morality. They were calculated efforts to abuse children and to coerce submission through their role as our highest moral authorities, our representatives to us and to God of our faith. These were not men struggling with some part of themselves that they tried to use their faith to combat. There were men who used their faith as a tactical weapon against these poor children. And worse, others around them supported them in doing it. Sure, there are sometimes bad apples in a bunch but for the other priests and bishops who knew about these things to let them go? To hide them? To move them? For some time, there was talk about the various recovery programs that priests used to be sent to for these crimes. At the time, so the talking points go, there was an understanding that this could be “treated”. Call it denial or something, but I gave the benefit of the doubt to those accounts. Yes, we know better now, but back then, maybe that really did make sense. After hearing about the scope, reading the accounts, and attempting to internalize and grapple with what the authorities of my faith did, no. That line of argument does not past muster. There is no way that anyone hearing these accounts could think that all someone needed to do was go to treatment to “cure” them. Either these other priests and bishops stuck their heads in the sand and refused to hear what actually happened or they are far more disgusting than we as the American Church have ever been prepared to admit. I want to be able to propose ways to stop this from ever happening again. Not the sexual abuse—though that should absolutely stop—but this institutional culture. Even after the Dallas Charter and all that we, as a church, have realized since 2002, how are there still more new accounts coming to light from decades ago that were known? Why are there redacted names of priests in the grand jury report of previously known events that weren’t made public. Even in those cases where it was deemed the accusations were not credible, is there enough transparency to vouch for that? I wish I could write a polished post that would give some glimmer of hope. I can’t. Not right now. I can only remind myself that our faith is in Jesus Christ, not in the ministers of the Church. 
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Woman Finds Two Puppies Bound, Stuffed Inside Crate

SACRAMENTO COUNTY (CBS13) — Two puppies that were found stuffed inside a crate and hanging on for life are recovering at a Sacramento shelter. A Sacramento County woman says she heard a crying noise in front of her home off Countryfield Drive on Thursday and found two puppies tied to one another, inside a small crate. animal cruelty sacramento 4 Woman Finds Two Puppies Bound, Stuffed Inside Crate The puppies are now recovering at the Bradshaw Animal Shelter. “Nobody should treat animals this way; they were trying to kill these dogs. You don’t do that!” exclaimed Kathy Rau. She heard the cries for help from in between several garbage cans across from her home on Thursday. She found two sister puppies bound and stuffed inside a crate. “I don’t know how anybody could do that, a monster,” said Rau emotionally. The puppies were tied to each other with what appears to be an electrical cord. Rau says she cut the cord from the puppies’ necks, and immediately brought them into her home. animal cruelty sacramento 3 Woman Finds Two Puppies Bound, Stuffed Inside Crate “I gave them biscuits and water, they just wanted to drink, it was so hot. I just wish we could find the monsters who did this,” Rau added. It was a heart-wrenching 24 hours for Rau as she nursed the puppies back to health. The sister puppies are now recovering at the Bradshaw Animal Shelter, four days after Rau found them. “They’re healthy, they’re happy, they’re social, they like to be handled. Originally they were fearful and cowering,” said shellter director Dave Dickinson. animal cruelty sacramento 2 Woman Finds Two Puppies Bound, Stuffed Inside Crate The two puppies were left for dead in unbearable temperatures. Now a search is underway for whoever dumped them on the side of the road. Rau’s one wish: “All I want really, really bad is that they be adopted together.” animal cruelty sacramento 1 Woman Finds Two Puppies Bound, Stuffed Inside Crate The sister puppies will be up for adoption starting Tuesday. The shelter says it can’t force anyone to adopt both puppies together, it only wants to ensure they find a good forever home.

Aldermen Want More Information From Centers Housing Border Children

CHICAGO (CBS) — Quick action from Chicago’s city council Wednesday regarding centers where children separated at the border are sent. Aldermen said they’re not getting enough information from the non-profit Heartland Alliance. CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole reports, the city is taking steps to make sure they get it. They are smiling now, but two Brazilian boys, separated from their families at the border, told stories of being isolated and yelled at. One even placed in a cast without a doctor’s care while sheltered at one of five Heartland Alliance centers in Chicago. “I have a facility in my ward. I didn’t even know that it was a facility that was taking in these children,” said 3rd ward alderman Pat Dowell. Aldermen have since been frustrated by Heartland’s inability to quickly provide basic information. Saying they’re constrained by federal guidelines, Heartland was slow to reveal the locations where it housed children separated from their families and sent to Heartland as a result of President Trump’s zero-tolerance border policy. “We are talking about X number of children and we still don’t know what that number is, whether it’s 66 or 73,” said 25th ward alderman Daniel Solis. Acting swiftly Wednesday, Chicago city council approved a measure that would, for starters, require Heartland and other childcare institutions to provide personnel contact information, addresses, the average number of children housed and their ages. “We are going to do inspections. And I think that’s a good thing to do. To find out if the facilities that are taking care of these kids are adequate enough to be safe,” said Solis. “There won’t be this mystery of ‘we can’t give you information because the federal government is prohibiting us from doing that,'” said Solis. In a written response, the organization said “Heartland Alliance has no objection to additional oversight.” CBS 2 learned that on Wednesday Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich toured one of Heartland’s facilities and prayed with the children. He said we should be grateful for the many dedicated people who care for them in these circumstances. The visit came about a month after his first request.

Vallejo Child Abduction Survivor Starts New Foundation

VALLEJO (KPIX 5) — A Bay Area woman who survived a child abduction almost two decades ago is now making it her mission to help others avoid a similar trauma. Midsi Sanchez was eight years old when she was kidnapped in 2000. She made national headlines with her daring escape. Nearly 18 years later, she says she is still dealing with the emotional fallout from her ordeal. Standing among the custom hot rods on the Vallejo waterfront that were part of a fundraiser for her new venture, the 25-year-old Sanchez talked about the non-profit aimed at preventing child kidnappings and sexual abuse. “I was abducted and gone for three days. The three longest days of my life,” said Sanchez. The crime took place on August 10, 2000. Sanchez was only eight years old, walking home alone from school, when 39-year-old Curtis Dean abducted her and locked her up in chains. “Being sexually assaulted and raped, chained to his vehicle like an animal,” remembered Sanchez. She eventually managed to escape when her captor left her alone in the car with the keys. She unlocked her chains and made it home alive. Her hometown of Vallejo and the entire Bay Area cheered, relieved she made it to safety.   “The community showed so much love and support and prayer. And I’m so grateful for that,” said Sanchez. “But after experiencing such trauma and trying to go back to a normal life, it isn’t the easiest thing to do.” Her life took some difficult turns. PTSD from her terrifying experience led to alcoholism. After she was badly injured in a car crash at age 16, she found out she was pregnant with her daughter who is now eight years old. It was when she learned of her pregnancy that Sanchez looked deep inside herself and — once again — found a way to unlock the chains that were holding her back. In 2009, Sanchez reached out to the family of Sandra Cantu, whose daughter was missing in Tracy. She says her presence seemed to help, even though Sandra was later found dead inside a suitcase. Sanchez realized she had a knack for helping families in some of the most dire circumstances.   The fundraiser on Sunday featuring dozens of classic cars at Gentleman Jim’s restaurant in Vallejo was intended to collect money and raise awareness for her new nonprofit, the Midsi Sanchez Foundation.   Sanchez will give presentations to students using animatronic puppets with a focus on prevention of abduction and child sex abuse. “My favorite tip, which I give to my own daughter, is that adults don’t need help from children,” explained Sanchez.”The man who abducted me claimed to be disabled and didn’t have the ability to bend over so he asked me to help him.” It turned out her captor Dean had murdered two other girls he had kidnapped — Amber Schwartz and Xiana Fairchild. He later died in prison while serving a 300-year sentence.She knows her story could also have had a terrible ending. So she’s not wasting any time to help others. Being in that man’s car, being gripped by him, being scared for my life, I didn’t know if I was going to live, said Sanchez. I’m just so grateful that I get to be here and use the past for something greater. Sanchez’s life story continues to inspire the many people who prayed all those years ago for her safe return. She hopes people will also be inspired to help her new cause.

Migrant Children Remain At Risk Of Human Trafficking, Abuse

(AP) — The U.S. government risks placing migrant children in the custody of human traffickers because federal agencies have delayed crucial reforms needed to keep the children safe, according to the findings of a Senate subcommittee obtained by The Associated Press. Federal officials came under fire two years ago for rolling back child welfare policies meant to protect unaccompanied minors fleeing violence in Central America, and lawmakers said Thursday that the agencies had yet to take full responsibility for the children’s care in the United States. Since the dramatic surge of border crossings in fall 2013, the federal government has placed more than 180,000 unaccompanied minors with parents or other adult sponsors in communities nationwide, where they are expected to attend school while they seek legal status in immigration court. An AP investigation found in 2016 that more than two dozen unaccompanied children had been sent to homes across the country where they were sexually assaulted, starved or forced to work for little or no pay. At the time, many adult sponsors didn’t undergo thorough background checks, government officials rarely visited homes and in some cases, had no idea that sponsors had taken in several unrelated children, a possible sign of human trafficking. Since then, the Health and Human Services Department has used its limited funding to boost outreach to at-risk children deemed to need extra protection, and last year offered post-placement services to about one-third of unaccompanied minors, according to the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. But advocates say it is hard to gauge the total number of minors who may have been exposed to dangerous conditions, in part because some of the migrants designated for follow-up disappear before social workers reach them, and sponsors can refuse a house call. “HHS has an obligation to better track these kids and ensure they show up to their court hearings because the potential for trafficking and abuse remains an issue,” said Republican Sen. Rob Portman, chair of the subcommittee, which will hold a follow-up hearing Thursday. Portman began investigating in response to a case in his home state of Ohio, where eight Guatemalan teens were placed with human traffickers and forced to work on egg farms under threats of death. Six people have been convicted and sentenced to federal prison for their participation in the trafficking scheme that began in 2013. The hearing comes as the Trump administration has called for amending a law to allow the government to send more migrant children back to their home countries more quickly if they are not at risk of human trafficking. The administration also is pushing to terminate the settlement of a class-action lawsuit that ensures unaccompanied minors are housed in the “least restrictive” setting, preferably with their parents or other adult relatives, while they await hearings in immigration court. In June, the administration announced it would begin arresting sponsors who had hired smugglers to bring their children into the U.S., a move that sent a shudder through immigrant communities nationwide. HHS declined to respond to AP questions about the subcommittee’s findings. The Department of Homeland Security has coordinated the care, custody and removal of unaccompanied minors with its counterparts at HHS, according to a copy of written agency testimony obtained by the AP. “DHS has worked closely with the Trump administration and members of Congress to address existing ‘loopholes’ that allow individuals to exploit our immigration laws,” said written testimony by James McCament, a DHS deputy undersecretary. “This not only safeguards the child, it protects the integrity of our immigration system.” Once migrant children turn 18, they are no longer eligible to be held in facilities run by HHS, and the agency is required to let DHS know whether the children should be detained or released into the community. But HHS only forwards those plans for one of every three children, the subcommittee found. The number of children seeking refuge in the U.S. has not returned to the height of the surge starting in 2013, but spiraling gang and drug violence in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador continue to push children, teens and families to migrate northward. The panel’s top Democrat, Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware, said the agencies need to do more to prevent abuse. “It is clear that we are failing to adequately protect these children, many of whom have fled horrific violence, experienced trauma and now face significant challenges in their new homes,” Carper said in a statement. “The government agencies responsible for overseeing these children must be doing more to address the systemic shortcomings that this committee has already identified.” © Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.