Anne Arundel County State's Attorney Anne Colt Leitess announced today that a jury convicted James Robert IV, 38, of Severn of sex abuse of a minor, seven counts of rape and lesser included offenses. This appears to be the first case in the State of Maryland where a comfort dog accompanied a victim when testifying during a trial.
"Testifying in court can be extremely traumatizing for survivors of sexual assault especially for a child. In this case, the use of a comfort dog provided the survivor with a sense of safety as she recounted the horrific details about the abuse she suffered," said Anne Arundel County State's Attorney Anne Colt Leitess. "With professional counseling and continued family support, I hope that she will continue to heal. I am grateful that the defendant will be held accountable for his crimes and can no longer hurt her. I would like to thank Caring Canines for providing this valuable service to those who have been traumatized."
On November 15, 2018, the Anne Arundel County Police Department responded to the 1700 block of Carriage Court to conduct a well-being check after receiving a tip from a sexual assault tip line. The tip stated that the defendant, later identified as James Robert IV, had raped the survivor. On November 20, 2018, the Anne Arundel County Police Department and the Anne Arundel County Department of Social Services interviewed the survivor who revealed that the defendant raped her on four separate occasions and threatened to kill her. During one incident, she advised that he choked her and only stopped after she told him she was unable to breathe.
During the trial, the survivor testified with the aid of a comfort dog from Caring Canines. The dog and handler were trained and certified through PetPartners.org to provide interventions and emotional support for victims of trauma. In 2018, Anne Arundel County and Harford County Circuit Courts became part of a pilot program allowing the use of comfort animals in the courthouse. The program was launched with the support of Administrative Judge Laura Ripken who considers written requests made on behalf of children who appear in either civil or criminal proceedings.
Robert will be sentenced on January 29, 2020 by the Honorable Stacy W. McCormack.
Assistant State's Attorney Mary-Ann Burkhart prosecuted the case on behalf of the citizens of Anne Arundel County.
Physical abuse is non-accidental physical injury (ranging from minor bruises to severe fractures or death) as a result of punching, beating, kicking, biting, shaking, throwing, stabbing, choking, hitting (with a hand, stick, strap, or other object), burning, or otherwise harming a child, that is inflicted by a parent, caregiver, or other person who has responsibility for the child. Such injury is considered abuse regardless of whether the caregiver intended to hurt the child. Physical discipline, such as spanking or paddling, is not considered abuse as long as it is reasonable and causes no bodily injury to the child.
The first step in helping abused or neglected children is learning to recognize the signs of child abuse and neglect. The presence of a single sign does not mean that child maltreatment is occurring in a family, but a closer look at the situation may be warranted when these signs appear repeatedly or in combination.
Days before Francois Brown was to stand trial for beating his girlfriend’s toddler to death, city prosecutors accused him of once fracturing the femur of a baby girl.
Assistant State’s Attorney Michele Lambert told a judge that Brown fractured a baby girl’s leg bone in November 2017, bringing to three the number of young children he allegedly hurt. Two of them died.
“The improbability of the defendant being innocently entangled in two child homicides and one serious non-fatality in the span of six years in facially inconceivable,” Lambert told the judge.
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DENTON — An Easton woman has been charged with child abuse after allegedly leaving an 18-month-old child along state Route 328 near Denton, state police said.
Elizabeth Newnam, 29, of 29416 Petunia Drive, is charged with second-degree child abuse, neglect of a minor, reckless endangerment, second-degree assault, disorderly conduct and driving under the influence.
Read the full story at Times-Record (MD Eastern Shore)
Grants Awarded to Improve Child Abuse and Neglect Investigations
Grants are Part of Federal Children’s Justice Act Funds
ANNAPOLIS, MD – The Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention (GOCCP) today announced more than $250,000 in funding from the federal Children’s Justice Act (CJAC) grant program. Funding is awarded to organizations and law enforcement agencies to improve the investigation, prosecution, and judicial handling of cases of child abuse and neglect, particularly child sexual abuse and exploitation.
“These grants have a tremendous impact in our communities,” said V. Glenn Fueston, Jr., GOCCP Executive Director. “This funding can assist with training or other administrative costs, allowing awardees to focus their funds in more strategic ways to protect children from abuse and neglect.”
Grants were awarded to the following entities:
This is the 14th year of the grant. Since the program began in 2004, more than $3 million has been awarded from the program.
Information about the federal CJAC program may be found https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/childrens-justice-act&source=gmail&ust=1543340830476000&usg=AFQjCNECqtr3D8h0ZUZC4qev06Fu5exB2w Information about the state program may be found http://goccp.maryland.gov/grants/programs/cjac/%23documents&source=gmail&ust=1543340830476000&usg=AFQjCNFmHynf6NSQ41xT_Z89K11Qai0S0g.
The explosive report about sexual abuse by Catholic priests unveiled by a Pennsylvania grand jury in August has set off an unprecedented wave of investigations over the last several months, with attorneys general in 14 states and the District of Columbia announcing probes and demanding documents from Catholic officials. Those efforts have been joined by a federal investigation out of Philadelphia that may become national in scope.
The swift and sweeping response by civil authorities contrasts sharply with the Vatican’s comparatively glacial pace. While some U.S. dioceses have published lists of priests they say have been credibly accused of sexual abuse and two cardinals have been ousted, the Vatican this month put on hold a vote by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on measures to hold bishops more accountable until after a global synod in early 2019. In the meantime, Rome has done little to address the crisis.
“The Catholic Church has proven that it cannot police itself,” said Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan (D), whose state is among those investigating. “And civil authorities can’t let the church hide child sexual abuse allegations as personnel matters. They’re crimes. We need a full accounting of the church.”
The new investigations are taking place in a very different climate than existed in 2002, when the Boston Globe exposed decades of abuse and coverups in that city. Many lay Catholics have lost faith in the church’s ability to right itself and are pushing for civil authorities to hold high-ranking church officials accountable. There’s also a greater willingness by law enforcement to do battle with a church that has become a far less formidable local presence. And the graphic grand jury report has spurred widespread public outrage.
However, hope for action won’t be satisfied quickly. Following an initial flurry of news conferences and calls to hotlines set up for the public to report abuse, there is likely to be an extended period of silence while prosecutors gather evidence.