Count Your Blessings and Watch them Multiply

April 23, 2014

Here in the United States, we’re consumed by our love of money and status.  We think bigger is better, and if we can just get that promotion, all will be well with our souls.  There’s one fatal flaw to this mindset:  it’s all smoke and mirrors.  Once we reach our goal, we immediately feel compelled to set a higher goal.  We’re left in a vacuum of unfulfillment.   Maybe getting more isn’t the answer to life.  Maybe it’s giving.

There’s something profoundly liberating about giving, yet we don’t do it often enough.  It begs the question: why not?  For some of us, our demanding schedules overtake our time to volunteer.  For others, our fear of economic instability manifests a mindset dominated by pernicious lies like, “You can’t afford to give” and “If you give, you won’t have enough”.  However, truth of the matter is we simply cannot afford to not give back!

When we give of ourselves, our time, and our money, we’re also giving up control.  As a control freak myself, I know that sounds scary, but I’ve learned that the momentary lack of control forces me to look at what I do have and truly count my blessings.  I have clean drinking water.  I have food on my table.  I have a roof over my head and clothes on my back.  Suddenly, my panic-stricken mindset is replaced with gratitude.  Gratitude not only encourages our hearts, it produces peace.  And we could all use a little more peace these days.  The benefits of giving don’t stop there!  Giving opens up avenues for abundance.

Let’s take a moment and consider the Dead Sea.  Fresh water flows into it, but nothing flows out of it, rendering everything in and around it lifeless.  When anxiety drives our decisions, we cannot grow spiritually, emotionally, or mentally.  When we open up our hearts and give to others, we give ourselves room to grow and thrive!

I beseech you to open your hearts and give back! Give your time/services/money/support/encouragement/love!  Give whatever you can!  If ever there was a proverbial truth, it’s the more you give, the more you get.  Give and start experiencing a life of fulfillment!

Badger State Builds ICAC Team

July 9, 2013

The Wisconsin Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force recently added two new members – the City of Hayward Police Department and the Spring Valley Police Department. The additions bring Wisconsin ICAC close to 200 members.

As ICAC members, Hayward and Spring Valley police departments are eligible to receive special training, including that offered by The Innocent Justice Foundation. The 61 ICACs in the United States work to end the sexual abuse of children by investigating individuals who produce, share and view images of children being sexually abused and tortured.

Man Bought, Then Recorded Abuse of Child

July 1, 2013

A U.S. Federal judge has sentenced an Australian man to 40 years in a U.S. prison for producing and sharing images of a child he adopted being sexually abused by other men.

Reports indicate the man and his Australian partner purchased the boy in an unidentified country for $8,000, than passed the child off as the biological son of one of the men.

In accepting the man’s plea to conspiracy charges involving child exploitation, the judge said she did so because the videos confiscated by investigators were too horrific to show a jury.

Prosecutors said the charges resulted from abuse that took place when the child was five or six years old, although they found video showing the boy being used for a sex act when he was less than two years old.

Federal prosecutors in Indiana, where the court proceedings took place, said the two men had been living with the boy in California. The Associated Press obtained court records indicating the men used falsified papers to legalize the child’s adoption. The child has been rescued and is being cared for in California, according to prosecutors.

Investigators reported finding recordings of the child being sexually abused on computers in San Francisco, Arlington, Va., and Anderson, Ind.

“These men submitted this young child to some of the most heinous acts of exploitation that this office has ever seen,” Indiana US Attorney Joe Hogsett said in a statement following the hearing.

Torture Victims Need Your Support

June 26, 2013

Today is International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. It was started by the United Nations as a way of bringing the world’s attention to the plight of individuals subject to torture in countries around the world, abused for their political beliefs, religious affiliation, ethnicity, gender – any one of myriad reasons. The Innocent Justice Foundation would also like to use this day to bring attention to the plight of thousands of children right here in the United States whose torture, rape and sexually abuse are being photographed and shared with others via the Internet.

The law enforcement officials in the 61 Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task forces monitor the Internet for such images so they can arrest and prosecute the individuals responsible and save children from further abuse. These investigators report that more and more of the images they see are of young children – infants and toddlers – and that the sexual abuse is more violent and more graphic than ever before.

Innocent Justice asks that you support these youngest victims of torture with a financial gift. Donations to Innocent Justice support the ICACs with the equipment and training they need to find victims and end their abuse.

Tough Sentence for MO Man

June 25, 2013

Jason Dewayne Beshears of Joplin, MO has been sentenced to 50 years in prison without parole for sexually abusing a 4-year old girl and photographing the abuse.

Beshears, 31, was originally charged when a man told law enforcement officers that he found his daughter inside Beshears’ bedroom. Prosecutors reported that more than 600 images of child porn were found on Beshears’ digital media, including a large quantity of video files showing Beshears sexually abusing the victim.

NJ Gov Gets Tough Child Pornography Law

A bill that would make New Jersey’s child pornography laws as tough as federal regulations is awaiting Gov. Chris Christie’s signature.

The bill, which unanimously passed both New Jersey’s state Assembly and Senate, sets mandatory five- and 10-year minimum prison terms for individuals found guilty of distributing 25 or more images of children being sexually abused and require that anyone convicted of engaging a child in pornography serve at least 85 percent of their prison term. The bill also includes language that makes it clear that anyone using a peer-to-peer computer file-sharing program for images of child sexual abuse is distribution rather than possession.

The Senator who originally proposed the bill said he believes it could serve as a “national model” for anti-child pornography legislation.

A Dad Talks to Other Dads

June 24, 2013

Father’s Day has come and gone but the responsibilities of fatherhood stay with a man from the moment his child is born until the day he leaves this earth. So TIJF wanted to share with you the thoughts of a famous father about the importance of talking with your kids about healthy relationships:

When Fathers Say “No More” To Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault
by Michael Bolton

Because fathers have a special role in their children’s lives, they also have a remarkable opportunity to share lessons that can influence and impact their sons and daughters in significant and enduring ways. But how many of us have actually taken time to sit with our sons and daughters to discuss a subject of tremendous consequence – how to have healthy relationships.

Proudly, I join fathers around the country today in urging dads to have serious and substantive conversations with their sons and daughters, not only about the perils of drugs and alcohol or the importance of education, but about what it means to have healthy relationships.

We see too often, on the evening news and in crime statistics, the horrific results of the mistreatment of women and children. Every 15 seconds, a woman is abused by her partner. Nearly three out of every four Americans knows someone personally who is or has been a victim of domestic violence. Sex trafficking – especially of young children – is increasing at alarming rates across our country. And while we stand tall and proud with those men and women who have served and continue to serve in our military we have seen even those institutions shaken by the scourge of sexual assault – 26,000 members of the Armed Forces sexually assaulted in just one year.

For two decades, The Michael Bolton Charities has been dedicated to responding to the needs of children and women at risk. It has been encouraging and inspiring to be joined in this effort by people who believe, as I do, that we must end the cycle of domestic violence and the lasting damage it inflicts on our families and our communities. Providing effective responses that offer real, life-changing opportunities is at the heart of our work, and our commitment has not wavered.

It has been estimated that as many as 10 million children witness assaults by one parent against another each year. We recognize that domestic violence places children, as well as women, in harm’s way. Our determined efforts continue across the country, most notably in Connecticut and Nevada, where visionary leaders and everyday citizens are coming together to advance effective strategies, legislation, and solutions that work, and that matter.

For all of these reasons, I support a new initiative called NO MORE. It aims to get men talking about these serious issues. New data from a NO MORE survey, sponsored by the Avon Foundation for Women, shows that on this subject fathers have been virtually silent. Three out of four men nationwide say they have not talked about domestic violence or sexual assault with their children. And so, as fathers, we can wait no more. We must all begin the conversation, close to home, with each of our children. As fathers we must continue the conversation with leaders in business and our government. And, as fathers, we must fully engage with our educational system so boys can be taught in the developmental stages that you can never be a real man and be violent with a woman.

As fathers, we must fight to keep VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) fully funded and declare war on human trafficking in our country and everywhere it exists. We need to evolve in our perception and treatment of young women everywhere. It is important to say, free of ambiguity or hesitation, that violence and abuse, power and control, are never acceptable. That’s precisely where dads come in. I am firmly convinced that we can cause a chain reaction of hope if our children hear directly from us precisely why healthy relationships must be a priority. Every day. Every night. In every way.

Such a conversation may be difficult to start. There are resources to help, and they are included at www.michaelboltoncharities.com and www.nomore.org. Your involvement has never been more meaningful, or more necessary.

As the son of marvelous parents, the father of three daughters, and the grandfather to two magnificent granddaughters, I am very fortunate. Yet, the magnitude of this issue surrounds me every day.

This Father’s Day can be remembered as the day when we fathers turned a collective corner, reducing domestic violence and sexual abuse to an aberration, not an everyday occurrence. Together, we can articulate NO MORE through conversations started, voices raised and actions taken. By doing so, this will truly be a Father’s Day worthy of every father and every child because the greatest gift we can offer our children on their fathers’ day is the ability to have and sustain healthy, mature relationships, built on respect and trust. ________________________________
Multiple Grammy Award winning songwriter and recording artist Michael Bolton is Chairman of The Michael Bolton Charities, Inc., which recently marked two decades of providing support to children and women at risk.

Victim Restitution Likely

A Wichita, Kansas man convicted of producing and distributing images of a child being sexually abused faces a hearing today to determine how much restitution he must pay the nine-year old girl he abused and photographed.

Philip Andra Grigsby has already been sentenced to 260 years in prison for abusing the child and possessing and distributing child pornography. Grigsby was found guilty of sending emails containing photos of the girl being sexually abused to a man in Australia. Investigators were able to identify the child after noticing the name of a middle school on a physical fitness certificate visible in the photos.

Around the US — ICAC Success Stories

June 24, 2013 — The Kalamazoo Sheriff’s Office and the Michigan Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, working on a tip from the FBI, have arrested a Kalamazoo man for possessing photos of tied-up teenagers.

Keith Workman, 43, has been charged with child abuse, sexual conduct and concealed weapons violations for possessing a “stun gun device,” police said.

The first case developed by the Mercer County (West Virginia) Sheriff’s Department’s ICAC Task Force has resulted in 133 counts against a Bluewell man for receiving and possessing images of a child engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

Johnny Richard Rowe, 60, was arrested by Mercer County Sheriff D.B. “Don” Meadows, other Mercer Sheriff’s deputies and ICAC investigators from the West Virginia State Police. The West Virginia State Police heads up the West Virginia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. Meadows authorized his department to become a member of the task force in 2012.

Man Used Craigslist to Solicit Teens

June 17, 2013

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation ICAC has charged 42-year old Michael Dean Osburn with using Craigslist to solicit minors for sex.

Officials say Osburn was arrested when he arrived at a location where he believed he was meeting a 15-year old boy.