Child pornography leaves in its wake a trail of tragedy and shattered life. While public policy may never eradicate this evil altogether, it can at least alleviate the suffering of its victims. That’s exactly what Senator Hatch has sought to do with a groundbreaking new proposal that will provide justice for victims of child pornography.
Few could name a more traumatic experience than being sexually abused during childhood. But photographs or video of that abuse circulating on the Internet can turn a victim’s life into a never-ending nightmare. The Supreme Court itself has acknowledged that “every viewing of child pornography is a repetition of the victim’s abuse.”
One recent study found that 70 percent of adults who are victims of child pornography worry about being recognized by someone who has seen their sexual abuse images. And their worries are not unfounded: an estimated 30 percent of victims have actually reported being recognized. Victims also worry about images and videos of their abuse being used to facilitate the sexual abuse of other children in the same way such images were used by their tormentors.
The growing menace of child pornography is perpetuated by everyone in the chain of its creation, distribution, and consumption. Each step in this cycle is driven by the other. And while we may never know the number and identity of all the people who contribute to this heinous practice, we do know that the harm caused to its victims never ends.
The ongoing nature of child pornography’s harm means that its victims can require lifelong treatment to address their chronic distress. The “ordinary” path of growing up can be challenging enough; for child pornography victims, it can be unbearable.
That’s why more than two decades ago, Congress sought to help victims of child sexual abuse by requiring that defendants pay restitution to cover “all a victim’s losses.” That worked reasonably well for crimes in which a particular defendant caused finite harm to an individual victim. That statute, however, was enacted before the Internet became the primary method of child pornography trafficking. And in a 2014 case argued by University of Utah law professor Paul Cassell, the Supreme Court made it clear that this statute cannot provide meaningful restitution for most child pornography victims.
In an effort to update our laws for the digital age, Senator Hatch has introduced the Amy, Vicky, and Andy Child Pornography Victim Assistance Act, named after the victims of some of the most widely circulated child pornography series in the world. “Amy” brought her case to the Supreme Court and “Andy,” who is aided by the tireless advocates at the Utah Crime Victims Legal Clinic, is a Utah resident.
Under this legislation-which already has nearly two dozen bipartisan co-sponsors-victims will be able to choose which form of assistance will help them most. For those seeking restitution from defendants, this bill revises the criteria and options for judges to calculate losses and impose restitution. Victims may, as an alternative, apply for a one-time payment from the existing Crime Victims Fund maintained by the Department of Justice.
Importantly, this commonsense proposal also gives victims the same access to evidence, such as images and videos, that defendants already have. Access to evidence can be important, for example, if a victim pursues a civil action in which the identity of the victim must be proved.
National and state organizations active in prosecuting criminals and helping victims have endorsed this innovative legislation. Such groups include the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault, National Center for Victims of Crime, National District Attorneys Association, National Crime Victim Bar Association, National Organization for Victim Assistance, and National Crime Victims Law Institute. The American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children-one of the leading organizations in the fight against child pornography-has also voiced its strong support for this bill.
This legislation is the right prescription because it is based on the right understanding of the unique ways in which child pornography hurts its victims. These young men and women desperately need our help, which is why we call on Congress to pass this bill without delay.
CEDAR CITY — (KUTV) - Taylor Cella didn’t know the guy, and she certainly didn’t want a picture of his penis, but the man, via SnapChat sent that image anyway, “and then the next day I’m get a picture from him,” says Cella, “why do I have to see that when I don't know you we don't have a relationship,” she says.
Cella is the victim of a growing, and disturbing phenomenon, men sending pictures to women, uninvited, of their genitals. It is a problem that is often ignored, or laughed off, but Turner Bitton with the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault, says it is a serious affront to women, and can be called nothing else but sexual harassment, “the person who is motivated to do this sort of thing is motivated by a desire to have power and control,” says Bitton.
It might be the next battleground in the MeToo Movement.
ON-LINE CANCER: Increasingly, woman are getting inappropriate, unsolicited pics from men. Its often ignored, laughed off. Experts say it's #sexualHarassment, & next battle ground in the #MeToo movement. A #CedarCity woman tells us her story, @KUTV2News @10.— Chris Jones (@jonesnews) January 6, 2018
Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill says sending a sexually explicit picture unsolicited could be grounds for charges, “you shouldn’t be subjected to this, if you are a victim of this, file a report contact your law enforcement (agency).”
Bitton, Gill, and Cella all agree it is time for men who send these kinds of pictures to realize it is time to grow up, “as our technology evolves our response has to evolve and we have to become good digital citizens as well as offline citizens,” says Bitton.
UCASA will be sponsoring a symposium on sexual harassment on-line on January 16th, 2018 at the University of Utah Student Union building, in the Saltair Room.
A small group of activists on Friday stood silent along a busy Salt Lake City street, duct tape covering their mouths. Red rope tied their hands. Some had tears in their eyes as they held signs scrawled with sobering statistics of how frequent sexual abuse happens in Utah.
They were protesting, they said, against Salt City Tattoo, whose owner earlier this week posted a photo of a white elephant gift one of his employee’s brought to a company party: a “rape kit” that included duct tape, rope, a knife, leather gloves and a bottle of lubricant.
“Dakota made a rape kit for white elephant,” owner David “Day” May wrote, punctuated by three laughing face emojis.
For protest co-organizer Kyli Rodriguez-Cayro, the image was offensive — but not all that surprising.
“I’m kind of used to rape culture,” she said Friday. “It’s everywhere. I wish I could say I was shocked. I wasn’t.”
The woman was one of about a dozen activists who gathered Friday in front of the tattoo parlor, located at 353 E. 200 South.
Though the shop’s owner publicly apologized in an Instagram post, Lesley Ann Shaw said that wasn’t enough. Shaw — who identifies as non-binary transgender and prefers the pronouns “they” and “them” — said a public call-out was still needed to cause real action.
“This is how [rape culture] becomes normalized,” they said. “This was a work party, and not one person shut that down that night. The fact that there were even bystanders who didn’t do anything about it really just shows how normalized this conversation is.”
May on Thursday followed his original post with an apology, writing that there was “no excuse” for posting the photo, and said the employee who brought the gift to the work party had been fired. He also asked people to post any suggestions of what he could do to make it right.
The activists on Friday hoped to deliver a letter with a list of suggestions to the tattoo shop’s owner — including sensitivity training, adopting a zero-tolerance policy for rape culture, and volunteering to help survivors of sexual abuse. But no one ever came to open the business and the doors were locked.
Shaw said they had called the shop the day before, as well, to offer suggestions — but no one ever answered.
“Very disappointing,” they said.
No one answered the shop’s phone on Friday, and a Tribune request for comment emailed to May went unanswered.
The activists ended their protest by removing the duct tape from their mouths, and using it to tape copies of the letter and their signs to the shop’s door. Their red ropes were left draped on the door handles.
Turner Bitton, executive director of the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault, said Friday that while the photo was likely just a “foolish example of dark humor,” it shows that the community needs to have deeper conversations about societal norms and values that lead to the acceptance of harmful joking.
“We can’t escape accountability,” he said. “We all have to be present for that. One of my reactions to this situation is, it’s absolutely ridiculous that it happened, [but] I have seen this in my own life. We see it all the time. It’s important that we understand this scenario isn’t isolated.”
Drawing a Line: How to recognize and eliminate sexual harassment in your organization (yes, yours too)
Harvey Weinstein. Al Franken. Charlie Rose.
The last several weeks have been filled with a seemingly endless line of allegations against high-profile celebrities, politicians and businessmen, and as more victims come forward, even more appear. Sexual harassment is a phenomenon that just happens in other places and other industries—until it happens close to home, too.
“Suddenly, I [as a victim] don’t need to worry as much about the politics or my standing and relationship with my superiors; I can make this claim, because look at these other individuals who have come forward and made the claim and it’s been positively received. It’s empowering and it’s encouraging,” says Ryan Nelson, Utah president of Employers Council. “Seeing all this happening and the positive news reports and people coming out and condemning the behavior is extremely empowering and gives courage for an individual to report.”
This rising tide of revelation and accusation has many business leaders holding their breath. Will my organization be the next to be hit with a sexual harassment scandal?
As awareness grows on a subject that has been something of an open secret in many sectors of business, victims feel increasingly comfortable about speaking up. And as the ripples of newfound boldness and accusations expand, it’s more important than ever for employers and employees alike to know how to recognize sexual harassment and keep it from happening in their own workplaces.
Most advice aimed at business leaders is about mitigating legal exposure: how to prevent sexual harassment so you don’t get sued. How to pretend to take it seriously so you don’t get sued. How to create a policy so you’ll win if you get sued.
But this cultural moment offers an opportunity to go well beyond legal liability. How can you create a workplace culture that simply does not tolerate sexual harassment—because harassment is wrong, whether or not you’re legally responsible for it?
What it is
While sexual harassment certainly includes lewd comments or actions meant to provoke or make a person uncomfortable, it can also be a much more subtle, nuanced pattern of behavior.
“Understanding sexual harassment is the first step for the victims and those who are harassers. There are some harassers who don’t have a clue they’re engaging in sexual harassment behaviors,” says Kristina Diekmann, David Eccles professor of business ethics and professor of management. “The more egregious forms, people can agree on, but more subtle forms, I think there’s going to be a lot of uncertainty. It’s really important to increase awareness of what sexual harassment is, what the behaviors entail—that’s the first step for everyone.”
One misconception is that a comment or action has to be sexual in nature for it to constitute sexual harassment, says Nelson, and while those types of behaviors certainly qualify, the definition is much broader than just that.
“What we focus on from a legal standpoint with sexual harassment is the content,” he says. “Is there sexual context or connotation associated with the language, the gestures, the behavior, the written or verbal statements?”
Legally, the intent of a comment or action doesn’t matter, he says. What matters is how it’s perceived by the person on the other end. Something that one person feels is harmless or normal could be offensive or unwelcome to another person. The test is whether a “reasonable person”—a somewhat generalized term meant to include a social and cultural average of acceptability—would find the behavior or actions offensive, either by severity or duration.
Repeated sexual advances, comments on appearance or lifestyle, not-so-hilarious jokes and unwanted touching—even “friendly” hugs—fall in the repertoire of harassment. Compliments about someone’s appearance, for instance, may seem harmless, but can be less than positive for the recipient. “My intent may not be to degrade someone, but at the end of the day I’ve sexually patted someone on the head,” explains Turner C. Bitton, executive director of the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault.Read more
ST. GEORGE, Utah (News4Utah) - FLDS women from the polygamous towns of Hildale and Colorado City were in St. George learning about how they can help those who may have suffered abuse.
At Dixie State University FLDS women are furthering their education, becoming advocates for victims for sexual assault.
"This has given me a greater understanding of what sexual assault victims go through," said Esther, an FLDS mother.
Those in the FLDS faith are still wary of camera's, and not all of these women felt comfortable showing their face, but they felt strongly enough about what they've learned this week to share their voice.
"I want to be able to help them move on and move past that terrible incident in their lives," said Esther.
Voices of Dignity a non-profit in Hildale run by Christine Marie, who helps those in the FLDS faith. She encouraged the women to spend the week being trained as Sexual Assault Victims advocates.
"These people want to keep their children safe. They want to try to protect children and adults from sexual assault, so I am very proud of them," said Marie, Voices for Dignity Founder.
"At first I was like: 'Wow, what am I getting into?' But the more you get into it, the more you realize the need for it, and the good it can do. I am very glad I'm here," said Norma, an FLDS mother of 13.
The women will be certified to provide emotional support to victims, as well as assist victims during forensic exams. They plan to take their knowledge back into their community to lend support, and educate. "
When they start having these assaults- the young girls, the teenagers, they don't know how to say no ... and so they'll say: You should have known better. Well should they? They've never had to," said Norma.
Representatives from the Utah Coalition against Sexual Assault provided training. The trainings were facilitated by those with the Dove Center in St. George.
SALT LAKE CITY — (KUTV) Julee Smith is sorry for what victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence have endured, but said she is "grateful" accounts, once hidden against the rich and powerful, now have come to light.
"I've heard this from a number of people," Smith said, the director of the Ogden non-profit Your Community Connection for eight years. "When you feel like you're not alone, when you feel like there are other people that have experienced what you have, and that they have the courage to speak up and be counted, and that they will come together as a group and support each other, makes all the difference."
Names of the accused, in what seems an endless stream of stories, include Weinstein, Lauer, Rose, Franken and more.
I'm disturbed by the number of people who dismiss reports of sex abuse because it happened 20 or more yrs ago. "Historical cases" is also an overused term as if the passage of time is a natural cleanser of crimes. It is not. There ought to be consequences.— Emma Alberici (@albericie) November 27, 2017
Smith said her organization is fielding thousands more calls than just a few years back, and the number of domestic and sexual abuse clients has grown. But the stats may mirror more awareness on the national level, not serve as a strong reaction to it.
"I accepted it," said a woman, who told 2News she suffered abuse at the hands of her boyfriend for years. "I decided to spend of the rest of my life with this person regardless of the abuse."
She did not want to be identified, but said the week of Thanksgiving she finally called the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault for help. She said she did it at the urging of a friend, and for fear her boyfriend might kill her.
"They gave me hope that it could be different," she said.
Stories against high-profile figures also seemed to have impact with her.
"I felt relief, I felt relief," said the woman. "I felt like my kind would finally have their day, would finally be able to get out of the cage."
At the coalition, director Turner Bitton said web traffic has shot up in the last several months. There were less than 6,000 visits to its web page in August, compared to more than 12,000 in November.
Free and confidential support for victims and survivors of sexual assault or harassment is available 24/7 in Utah. The number is 1-888-421-1100.
SALT LAKE, Utah (ABC4 Utah) -- Amidst high-profile sexual assault allegations in the workplace, many cases still go unreported. There are local agencies that can walk you through the steps on how to file a grievance with your employer.
Some are saying this is a watershed moment. The Rape Recovery Center says they've had a 76 percent increase in calls into their crisis line last month.
Mara Haight, Rape Recovery Center Executive Director, "False reporting is rare. About 90% of survivors are not reporting. If we embolden people to share their case, that number will continue to increase. It won't mean more people are being assaulted it means more people are speaking out."
But how do you go about doing that?
One of the first calls could be to the Rape Recovery Center.
"Our first concern is how are you feeling? How are you doing? What do you want right now? If reporting to police is not what you feel comfortable with, we'll help them. It might be an advocate that helps you contact the HR representative. We'll help you find the words, what to say," said Haight.
Turner Bitten, the Executive Director at the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault or UCASA has been taking calls from employers and training organizations on safe work environments.
"We've had calls from ski resorts to non-profit organizations and government agencies reaching out for training," Bitten.
Bitten says it starts with strong leadership and a commitment to a safe working environment, training and policies in place on how to file a human resources complaint.
And for the survivor, knowing the resources available is key.
"We want to give you all the information and choices that you need to make a decision that feels empowering to you," said Haight.
There are nearly a dozen resources community based sexual violence services in Utah.
Free and confidential victim support is available 24 hours a day at 888-421-1100.
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) An 11 year run from the law comes to an end for a former Utah corrections officer.
US Marshals captured William Lawrence in Hawaii Monday.
While working in the Utah State prison, Lawrence handcuffed a young woman to a bed and used his badge to force her to have sex. Before sentencing, Lawrence fled, eluding police since 2006.
"I was so excited that justice had finally been served," Turner Bitton said, executive director for Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault (UCASA).
The 41-year-old is accused of using his law enforcement background to hide from officers.
US Marshals from Utah finally caught up to him while eating lunch at a Kauai McDonalds, where he had been living under a new identity.
"We were pretty excited. We couldn't work fast enough to uncover more things about this individual, this new person that we had learned of. There were a lot of high fives up on the 4th floor," said US Marshal Supervisor Deputy Derryl Spencer.
Advocates at UCASA said the cold-case arrest reaffirms sexual assault victims that justice will be served.
"The thing that I think it speaks the most to is the fact that there are dedicated professionals working to balance the scales of justice," Bitton said.
Free and confidential help and support for victims and survivors of sexual assault or harassment is available via phone 24/7 at 1-888-421-1100 or online at UCASA.org/resources.
Spencer said possible charges could be filed against anyone who helped hide Lawrence while he eluded law enforcement.
SOUTH SALT LAKE Utah (ABC4 Utah) - It took seven years, but a rape victim now knows the man who allegedly raped her.
Thursday, the Salt Lake District Attorney's office filed charges against 53-year-old David Zachary Swigart related to the 2010 sexual assault.
"This case could be construed as a cold case and based on the evidence of this case, the charges are warranted," said Sim Gill, Salt Lake County District Attorney.
According to Gill, police knew who the suspect was. He said the problem was finding the victim which police did last year.
In 2010, police began investigating the rape allegations. According to the charges and a search warrant, the 18-year-old was walking along 3300 South near 600 East.
That's when a man forced her to a nearby parking lot. There, he threatened to kill the teen, raped her and left. For seven years, the case remain unsolved.
"What I'm happy to see is that it looks like justice is about to be served," said Turner Bitton, executive director with the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault (UCASA).
Salt Lake's district attorney was unsure why it took three years for detectives to turn over DNA evidence of the suspect to the state's crime lab.
"I don't know if it sat on someone's desk but there was a gap in 2010, 2013 for some reason it didn't get processed," Gill said.
But he said in 2013 another detective renewed the investigation. Gill said the detective took the suspect's DNA to the state crime lab for processing and it pointed to Swigart.
"Kudos to detectives to stick with it because it almost took three years to locate the victim," Gill said. The victim vanished but Swigart was already in prison on an unrelated crime.
After finding the teen, the state crime lab again took new DNA from Swigart and it matched the old DNA evidence. Swigart was already in prison on an attempted sexual assault.
Sexual assault advocates said despite justice delayed, this will help the victim.
"One of the things we know about trauma is the best way to start the process of recovery is to give power and control back," said Turner Bitton, executive director of the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault (UCASA).
And he said the charges against Swigart is the first step in regaining that power.
As for the district attorney, he too hopes justice will eventually be served for the victim.
"I'm sorry that it took as long as it did," Gill said. "But the fact we are moving the direction of delivering that justice all hope is not lost and should not be lost."
Gill said there have been many important changes to prevent these types of delays. He said their office received a federal grant to expedite the processing of DNA evidence. In addition, Gill said law enforcement has a new policy which makes sexual assaults a priority.
Bitton said UCASA supported legislation that provides additional funding to the state crime lab. He said House Bill 200 will help all victims statewide to get DNA processing at a much faster rate.
Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault Executive Director Turner Bitton talks about local programs to help those who are facing sexual violence. He also speaks about UCASA's program 'Start by Believing' that teaches the community how to recognize and help a victim.
For more information about UCASA, visit ucasa.org. For immediate support, you can always reach The Utah's 24-hour Sexual Violence Crisis Line at (888) 421-1100.