Former Devon headmaster jailed for abuse, Charity steps up removal of child sex abuse images

April 14, 2015 Comments Off on Former Devon headmaster jailed for abuse, Charity steps up removal of child sex abuse images

“The UK-based Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) said it assisted in the removal of 31,266 pages last year, compared with 13,182 in 2013.”

Former Devon headmaster and organist jailed for “cruel and shocking” abuse regime on vulnerable school boys

By Exeter Express and Echo  4/12/15

A boarding school teacher has been jailed for 21 years after being found guilty of inflicting a reign of terror over vulnerable boys for two decades.

John Downing took advantage of the children by sexually abusing them after they were sent away to a boarding school in North Devon where he was a teacher and deputy headmaster.

He preyed on boys by sexually abusing them in the classroom, wash rooms, on beach outings and during midnight feasts which he arranged for a select group who he called his ‘Good Boys’.

Downing imposed a regime of fear in which he regularly beat boys with a slipper or wooden coat hanger.

He punished boys who talked after lights out by making them parade naked in the corridor outside their dormitory and encouraged boys on beach trips to walk around in the nude.

Downing, now aged 74, was a teacher and deputy headmaster of Heanton School, near Braunton, North Devon, from its founding in 1968 to its closure in 1985.

The converted rectory was a privately run boarding school for boys aged six to 12, most of whom were sent there by local authorities because they had problems at home.

This meant they had no-one to turn to when they were sexually and physically abused and their secrets remained hidden for years.

Two of them went to the police in the 1990s but officers decided there was not enough evidence. In the years that followed several got in touch over the internet and fresh complaints were investigated by police….

Downing has been the organist at Torrington church for 50 years during which his activities at the school have remained a secret. He went on to be a teacher at schools all over North and Mid Devon before he retired.

Downing, of Warren Lane, Torrington, denied 39 charges of indecent assault or gross indecency against seven boys aged seven to 12 between 1970 and 1985.

He was jailed for 21 years by Judge Graham Cottle who told him that some of his assaults would now be classified as rape….
http://m.exeterexpressandecho.co.uk/Devon-headmaster-organist-jailed-cruel-shocking/story-26320051-detail/story.html

Charity steps up removal of child sex abuse images  4/13/15
A child abuse watchdog has said it helped identify and remove more than double the number of sexually explicit web pages depicting youngsters in 2014 than in the previous year.

The UK-based Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) said it assisted in the removal of 31,266 pages last year, compared with 13,182 in 2013.

It said in many cases, each address contained more than one photo or video.

The figures do not necessarily indicate that illegal activity is increasing.

Instead, they may simply reflect that the charity recently began taking a proactive approach, seeking out child abuse imagery rather than just acting on others’ reports.

It was able to do this after the UK’s four biggest internet service providers committed an extra £1m over four years to fund its efforts.

If the material is hosted overseas, the organisation notifies local authorities and then repeatedly chases up complaints until the material is removed….

The body’s annual report discloses that of the discovered material:
Fewer than 0.3% of the web pages detected were hosted in the UK
56% were hosted in North America
41% were hosted in Europe, including Russia
http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-32288650

Accused Craigslist killer Miranda Barbour sexually abused by uncle, Sexual Abuse Allegations for Private Boys’ Schools in Britain, Resources to end internet child abuse

March 19, 2014 Comments Off on Accused Craigslist killer Miranda Barbour sexually abused by uncle, Sexual Abuse Allegations for Private Boys’ Schools in Britain, Resources to end internet child abuse

– Accused Craigslist killer Miranda Barbour had traumatic start in life
– Childhood sexual abuse may have contributed to Miranda Barbour’s issues later in life
– Wave of Sexual Abuse Allegations for Private Boys’ Schools in Britain
– Resources to end internet child abuse ‘may be woefully insufficient’

Accused Craigslist killer Miranda Barbour had traumatic start in life Jill Burke March 16, 2014

The sensational headlines surrounding accused Craigslist killer Miranda Barbour portray a deeply troubled young woman. Her claims to be a practicing Satanist and that she killed not just once, but upwards of 22 times, gained immediate attention as people in four states where the supposed victims resided — including Alaska — began to question whether the newlywed teen mom’s story could be true.

Is Barbour seeking attention? Aiming for an insanity defense? Or is she earnestly using her confession and incarceration to protect the public from her self-declared murderous proclivities? Only time will tell.

Yet for all of Barbour’s grandiose claims, there is one aspect of her life story that is not in dispute — the sexual abuse she suffered as a toddler by an uncle….

Miranda often spent weekends at her aunt and uncle’s house. “Uncle Rick” encouraged the sleepovers. Only later would young Miranda’s frequent complaints that her anus hurt, and once that her “pee pee” hurt, come to be understood for what they were — the aftermath and evidence of multiple attacks in which she had been subject to anal and vaginal sexual penetration and fellatio. She had, in the words of the prosecutor, been “sodomized in every way imaginable.” It was one of the most physically extreme abuse cases the trial judge had ever seen, and it happened to a girl whom the judge described as “hardly more than” a baby….

In Richard Fernandez’s personal belongings, investigators found pornography and a sexual abuse “how-to” manual titled “Fun With My Sister’s Kids.” The book “encouraged uncles, fathers and grandfathers to engage in unclassified felony sex acts with their young nieces, daughters and granddaughters,” according to a prosecutor’s description of it contained in court records.

This book described and recommended the very abuse of which Fernandez was accused of and for which he later accepted punishment. He pleaded no contest, a plea that allowed him to avoid trial and do time but without admitting he’d actually done anything wrong….

Fernandez seemed destined for a revolving door experience between incarceration and free society. According to court records, he wasn’t adequately participating in a sex offender treatment program, had visited a “porn store,” viewed pornography on the internet and failed to find full-time employment. More than once, he’d found ways to get online. He’d used computers at his church and in his room at his halfway house to seek out prohibited material….

By May 2011 he was back in again with more time to serve, and two months later he faced a new case altogether, this time for possession of child pornography. Investigators had found hundreds of images of child pornography on his computer, after probation and parole officers seized and turned Fernandez’s computers over to Alaska State Troopers.

Fernandez is now serving out a 40 year prison term in the pornography case — 20 years to serve with 20 suspended.  He’s scheduled for release in 2035. He must also remain registered as a sex offender for the rest of his life….
http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/20140316/accused-craigslist-killer-miranda-barbour-had-traumatic-start-life

Childhood sexual abuse may have contributed to Miranda Barbour’s issues later in life Jill Burke March 17, 2014

Much about the life and recent arrest of former Alaskan Miranda Barbour is discomforting. The troubled young woman, a teen runaway who turned to Satanism, heroin, and has since given birth to a child, stands accused of murder for the stabbing death of a man police say she lured through an ad on the online  bulletin board Craigslist. But one unnerving detail of her bizarre and traumatic story may resonate more profoundly with Alaskans than others: the childhood sexual abuse she suffered as a toddler….

Barbour was preyed upon by a man her family should have been able to trust: her uncle.

That man, Richard Fernandez, has served time in jail, where he remains after unsuccessful releases on parole and getting slapped with a new criminal charge for possession of pornography.

How often child sexual abuse happens in Alaska is difficult to assess. The best estimates are flawed because not all agencies that respond to abuse share uniform data, and it’s widely held that many victims never report the abuse. Those that do come forward sometimes wait years before doing so.

Alaska’s rate of child sexual abuse is six times the national average, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence….

In 2013, a trio of university researchers from Canada published a summary of decades of study on the topic of child sexual abuse and its prevalence, outcomes and prevention strategies. They found that child sexual assault “… alters a child’s cognitive and emotional orientation to the world and causes trauma by distorting their self-concept and affective capacities.” Traumatic sexualization, betrayal, powerlessness, and stigmatization that occur during the abuse may have lasting impacts. Post traumatic stress, dissociation symptoms, mood disorders, depression, behavior problems, inappropriate sexualized behaviors, substance abuse, self harm and suicide are all possible effects on these young victims of abuse, researchers found.

Additionally, when very young children experience sexual abuse, it can be difficult for them to process the trauma. While turning into a killer isn’t a foretold consequence, aspects of Barbour’s personality and life story appear to parallel the known, lasting impacts on sexually abused children….
http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/20140317/childhood-sexual-abuse-may-have-contributed-miranda-barbours-issues-later-life

Wave of Sexual Abuse Allegations for Private Boys’ Schools in Britain
By STEPHEN CASTLE MARCH 16, 2014

LONDON — Prompted by publicity surrounding recent child abuse scandals involving well-known figures, dozens of British men are breaking decades of silence about molestation they say they suffered as boys at expensive private schools, forcing the schools to confront allegations that in the past might have been hushed up, ignored or treated derisively.

In one instance involving Aldwickbury School, which educates boys ages 4 to 13, a former student, who requested anonymity because of the intimate details of the case, said he suffered profound feelings of confusion and guilt after being abused by a teacher in the 1970s. He said the teacher molested him regularly during English lessons over a period of two years.

With the teacher dead, and in the absence of an apology from the school, the former student brought a civil case against Aldwickbury, which was settled with a payment.

Getting the school to face up to what happened more than three decades ago was, the former student said, like “knocking my head against a brick wall.”

Vernon Hales, the current headmaster at Aldwickbury — in Harpenden, about 30 miles north of London — said in a statement that the school had reported the allegations, which do not relate to any current staff members or pupils, to the relevant authorities and been told that no further action would be taken….

Britain’s fee-paying schools have a track record of brutality. These days, most have shed the strictness and austerity of previous eras, but many upper-class Britons remember childhoods of cold showers, inedible food and relentless corporal punishment.

The very nature of boarding schools — closed environments in which teachers can wield enormous power — can make them attractive to child abusers. But in previous decades, parents were often reluctant to challenge teachers’ authority, said Alan Collins, principal lawyer at Slater & Gordon, which represented the former Aldwickbury student. He has 30 to 40 more cases pending against schools across the country.

“You had deference and the attitude that ‘this sort of thing happens,’ ” Mr. Collins said, adding that when teachers were discovered abusing pupils, they tended to be moved on quietly to avoid public embarrassment and damage to the school’s reputation.

“Sexual abuse is a taboo subject,” Mr. Collins said. “People do not want to talk about it for the obvious reason that it’s really gruesome, and in this country there has been a tendency or a temptation to sweep it under the carpet.”….

Mr. Collins added that the victims had suffered significantly. “Child abuse has the potential to affect a person’s functioning, the ability to form and sustain relationships; it can affect the ability to hold down a job,” he said, noting that some of his clients in their 40s had held 30 positions because “they just can’t settle in a job.”….
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/17/world/europe/wave-of-sexual-abuse-allegations-for-private-boys-schools-in-britain.html

Resources to end internet child abuse ‘may be woefully insufficient’
Internet Watch Foundation recruit seven extra staff, but MPs warn that more may be required to improve online safety
Press Association  theguardian.com, Tuesday 18 March 2014

Efforts by the internet industry to eradicate images of child sex abuse may prove “woefully insufficient”, MPs have warned as they called for action to improve online safety. Members of the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) – including Google, which contributed £1m – have funded the recruitment of seven extra full-time staff to track down illegal images.

The move last year to more than double the existing staff came amid severe criticism of internet firms for inaction following a number of child murder cases with porn connections. David Cameron has led demands that they develop better protections to prevent such abuse and to prevent children accessing legal adult material….
http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/mar/19/child-sex-abuse-online-insufficient-efforts

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