Guru convicted of abusing followers’ children fled justice
“The Hunt With John Walsh” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CNN. Got a tip? Call 1-866-THE-HUNT (In Mexico: 0188000990546) or click here.
(CNN)As young girls in the 1990s, Shyama Rose and sisters Kate and Vesla Tonnessen loved living in Barsana Dham, the Austin, Texas, ashram of the International Society for Divine Love.
- Convicted of 20 counts of indecency with a child
- Believed to be living in India
“Being a kid at Barsana Dham was pretty amazing,” Kate Tonnessen, now in her 30s, recalled. “To live on 200 acres of what was about as wild land as you can get in Texas.”
They, their parents and other families moved to the ashram in pursuit of enlightenment under the guidance of their spiritual leader, Prakashanand Saraswati, whom they called “Swamiji,” an honorific Hindu term for a guru.
“It was sort of understood that Swamiji was God, just on earth,” Vesla Tonnessen told CNN’s “The Hunt with John Walsh.” “He held absolute power over anything.”
The children of the ashram loved Saraswati. “We always felt as kids that he seemed like an Indian version of Santa Claus,” said Kate Tonnessen.
“He was very affectionate with everybody, and then the kids, he was really, like, cuddly and he’d give you hugs and kisses that just felt like your grandpa. But then sometime his kisses got weird.”
The abuse began when the girls were around age 12.
“The first time that he put his hand up my shirt,” Kate Tonnessen recalled, “I thought it was an inappropriate touch, and it was, uh, pretty devastating to me.”
“He would sometimes, you know, show up at my house at 3 in the morning and just come in,” Rose recalled.
“He’d tell me to go lock the door, and then he’d pull me onto the bed and kiss me and ask me to unhook my bra,” Kate Tonnessen said.
All three girls experienced acts of indecency at the hands of a man they were taught to believe was a god on earth.
As Rose recalled, “We were told if we said or thought anything negative against the society or against him, we could literally go to hell.”
Rose talked to her mother about what Saraswati had been doing. Her response shocked her.
“When she kinda knew and not only didn’t stop it but promoted it, like, what do you do as a kid?,” Rose told “The Hunt.” “I was like kind of flabbergasted when she told me, ‘Just enjoy it.'”
As Kate Tonnessen recalled, “After talking to Shyama and getting that confirmation that what had occurred to me had been happening to her, I don’t know, I just panicked and I spent days in darkness, writing in this journal.”
“On the third day, my mother kind of burst into my room and was livid and she’s like, ‘I read your journal.'”
Like Rose, Tonnessen expected support from her mother. Instead, her mother sided with her guru. Tonnessen said, “I was in trouble for seeing it as something other than religious.”
“I had considered telling somebody; telling an adult outside of the ashram,” Tonnessen said. “But the idea of what would happen if I did was just too painful to accept.”
“If I told someone, I’d be pulled out, away from my family.”
Allegations against Swamiji’s guru
Without support from their families or communities and afraid to go to the police, the girls stayed and endured until they were old enough to leave Barsana Dham.
“When I turned 18 and moved out, I felt entirely free for the first time,” Kate Tonnessen said.
Shyama Rose went to college to pursue a degree in computer science. “I was told by my mother that I shouldn’t go, and that I was being worldly; and that I wasn’t smart enough,” Rose recalled. “But, you know, I just decided to take off and go.”
Saraswati had a guru of his own, a well-known holy man from India named Kripalu who came to the United States in 2000 to spend time at Barsana Dham.
In a later online search, Kate Tonnessen discovered that Kripalu had faced accusations of rape in India and in Trinidad.
“I couldn’t stop shaking, recalled Tonnessen. “I clicked on it, and all these pages opened up; these news articles about how Kripalu had been accused by a young Trinidadian girl of rape.”
As Vesla Tonnessen recalled, the Kripalu allegations changed the equation for the three women. Knowing that Saraswati served and worshipped Kripalu, could the arrival of the guru’s guru put other girls still living in the ashram at risk?
“I think it just became clear that we weren’t the beginning and the ending of any abuse. And that there was probably a lot more abuse out there,” Vesla said. “And I think that was the point when we realized, like, well we should say something.”
“So then, after your parents, where do you go? You go to the police.”
In 2008, the three women brought their allegations to the Hays County, Texas, authorities. Though Saraswati never had sexual intercourse with them, in the eyes of the law his touching of their breasts while they were under the age of consent constitutes a felony.
But for Kate Tonnessen, it was too late to seek justice. The statute of limitations for this offense — 10 years after her 18th birthday — had expired a mere two months earlier. But her younger sister Vesla and their friend Shyama Rose were still within the 10-year limit. Assistant District Attorney Cathy Compton pursued their case.
Spiritual Huckster show true colors.
“When you have somebody who is repeatedly molesting children, you could not possibly charge every single time something happened,” Compton told “The Hunt.” “We just decided, we’re going to charge 10 counts for each girl.”
An indictment was handed up against Prakashanand Saraswati, but his devotees’ faith never wavered.
“There was absolutely no belief whatsoever in these three young ladies,” Hays County Lieutenant Sheriff Jeri Skrocki told “The Hunt.” “Everyone that lived out at the temple rallied around Swamiji.”
Kate and Vesla Tonnessen’s parents were among those who sided with the Saraswati.
“It feels like potentially what it feels like [when] a parent dies,” Kate Tonnessen told “The Hunt.” “But it wasn’t death that took them away. It was their own attachment to their guru that allowed them to override their love for me and my sister.”
Producers for “The Hunt” reached out to the women’s mothers, who did not comment.
Trial and conviction
Saraswati was released pending trial on a $1 million dollar bond, paid for by a member of the ashram.
His lawyers managed to delay proceedings for three years, but the case finally went to trial in 2011. On March 4, 2011, Saraswati was convicted of 20 counts of indecency with a minor.
The verdict came down on a Friday. The judge permitted Saraswati to return to Barsana Dham for the weekend. The punishment phase was set to begin that Monday, but Saraswati never showed up.
In his absence, the judge sentenced him to 14 years in prison for each of the 20 counts.
The hunt for Prakashanand Saraswati
“What happened in this case happens all over America,” said “The Hunt’s” John Walsh. “I’ll never know why. Think about it, he’s from another country. He’s got the resources to run. He did.”
Authorities believe he crossed the Laredo, Texas, border into Mexico, and from there fled to India.
Ultimately, the case in Trinidad against Saraswati’s guru, Kripalu, was dropped, “amid rumors of corruption and bribery,” according to Cathy Compton. His accusers in India recanted. Kripalu died in 2013. But Rose and the Tonnessen sisters still hope to see his disciple brought to justice.
“He’s still out there and he’s still abusing people,” said Vesla Tonnessen of Saraswati. “I don’t think that will stop until he’s imprisoned.”
Prakashanand Saraswati is thought to have various health issues including back problems and possibly diabetes. The U.S. Marshals Service believe he’s living in India between New Delhi and the town of Mussoorie. If you’ve seen Prakashanand Saraswati, please, call 1-866-THE-HUNT or go online at CNN.com/TheHunt. You can remain anonymous, we’ll pass your tip onto the proper authorities and, if requested, will not reveal your name.
Got a tip? Call 1-866-THE-HUNT (In Mexico: 0188000990546) or click here
Saraswati’s ashram has since changed its name to Radha Madhav Dham.
The managing members assert that they have no ties with Saraswati, that they did not assist in his departure, and they have no knowledge of his whereabouts.
Radha Madhav Dham also asserts that its leadership has been changed; that the new leaders have cooperated at all times with law enforcement; that they removed all images of and references to Saraswati, and that they have created controls to ensure a safe environment.
See more of Prakashanand Saraswati’s case on “The Hunt with John Walsh,” at 9 p.m. ET/PT Sunday, August 9
-Not just Christians, all of those who rely on woo to guide them have shitbirds among them. Religion just needs to be gone as an influence to control and subvert mankind.
Mississippi school district fined $7500 for opening assembly with prayer
Published July 27, 2015FoxNews.com
Brandon High School where the assembly in May 2014 took place. (City of Brandon)
Allowing a school assembly honoring high-achievers to open with a prayer made one Mississippi school district $7,500 poorer – and a student who sued $2,500 richer.
The Rankin, Miss., public school district was hit with the fine after U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves said it defied his prior order barring prayers school events. According to the judge, the prayer violated a 2013 court settlement that ordered the district to stop “proselytizing Christianity.” The alleged violation, which came at an assembly last year for students who scored above 22 on their ACT college admissions test, prompted the judge to apply fines for that and another incident, in which Gideons International was permitted to hand out Bibles to elementary school students.
“The district’s breach did not take very long and it occurred in a very bold way,” Reeves wrote in his judgment. “Its conduct displays that the district did not make any effort to adhere to the agreed judgment.”
Reeves also ordered the district to pay the student’s legal fees, an amount that will be determined at a later date, and threatened a $10,000 fine for any future infractions of the order.
The assembly at Brandon High School in May 2014 began with a prayer led by local Methodist pastor Rev. Rob Gill. Although not mandatory, the assembly honored the district’s students who scored higher than a 22 on their ACT college tests
The school district first came under legal fire when the same student took the school district and the school’s then-principal, Charles Frazier, to court in 2013 for forcing him to attend a series of assemblies that promoted Christianity.
Attorneys for the school district have argued that Gill’s prayer did not violate the 2013 orders or the student’s First Amendment rights because attendance at the assembly was optional. Reeves, however, believes the district has been trying to indoctrinate students with Christianity.
“From the accounts detailed in the record, it appears that incorporating religious script and prayers with school activities has been a long-standing tradition of the district,” the judge argued.
In a statement issued by an attorney, Rankin County Superintendent Lynn Weathersby said that despite the court’s ruling, students and teachers will continue to pray. However, district staff will have to adjust in order to comply with the ruling.
-Awesome ruling. Separation of church and state people, period, no explanation necessary! School children should not have their scientific minds stunted by being told that mythology is to be believed as real. The reality is is that we do not know what exactly is beyond this life, if anything. A narrow view shouldn’t demand superior advertisement when there are so many other myths to choose from. The ham-handed doctrine of Christianity speaks for itself, if the god of Abraham is as incompetent as the literal bible describes, than it might be a better bet to worship the My Little Ponies!
Selling Atlanta’s children: What has and hasn’t changed
By Jane O. Hansen, Special to CNN
Updated 11:34 AM ET, Sat July 18, 2015
15 years ago, Jane Hansen reported extensively on child prostitution in Atlanta
Now, trafficked children are more likely to be viewed as victims, not criminals
Technology has transformed the illegal sex industry
(CNN)The image sticks in my mind: A female defendant is escorted into the courtroom with shackles around her ankles, making it difficult to walk. Dressed in a jail-issued jumpsuit and flip-flops, she takes a seat at the appointed table up front, until the judge is gaveled in and we all rise.
As a newspaper reporter for more than 20 years in Atlanta, I’d observed this scene before. But this time, something was different.
Selling Atlanta’s Children
Jane O. Hansen’s three-part series “Selling Atlanta’s Children” about child prostitution was published January 7, 2001, in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where she worked for 25 years as an investigative reporter, columnist and member of the editorial board. Over the years, her stories captured many national awards, and she was twice a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. A series on the failures of Georgia’s child welfare system led to an overhaul of Georgia’s child welfare laws.
This defendant was chewing on her finger, had her hair pulled back in a tiny pigtail, and spoke in a high-pitched voice. She was 10.
She had been in and out of an Atlanta jail for months, as had her sister, because she was an alleged prostitute, a chronic runaway and no one knew what to do with her. When her probation officer asked whether the defendant could address the court, the judge nodded yes, and the little girl rose from the defense table. Her head bowed, she quietly told the judge she wanted to go home. Then, as she rubbed her eyes with balled up fists, she began to cry.
These children are victims, not prostitutes
Nearly 15 years ago, I wrote a series of stories called “Selling Atlanta’s Children” about child prostitution for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and I started it with that courtroom scene. That little girl was a metaphor for everything I had learned through my reporting. By meeting and interviewing her, her 11-year-old sister and other girls, I realized: There’s something wrong with this picture.
How to help sex trafficking victims
In 2000, I got a call in the newsroom from Stephanie Davis, a woman I’d never met, who identified herself as director of the Atlanta Women’s Foundation.
She told me there was a problem with childhood prostitution in Atlanta, that she knew I’d written about children’s issues before, and that she wanted me to meet with some people who could describe in detail what was happening. I was working on another series of stories, but I agreed to the meeting.
Educating Americans on human trafficking
Educating Americans on human trafficking 00:54
A week or so later, I met with a group of women that included a Fulton County Juvenile Court probation officer and some child advocates. They told me that a growing number of young girls — early to late teens — were coming into juvenile court charged with shoplifting or, more commonly, running away — an offense that applies only to minors.
Upon questioning by the judge, they learned that the girls were surviving on the streets as prostitutes under the tutelage of men who housed, fed and clothed them and, in exchange, sold them to other men for sex. I asked for numbers, but they couldn’t provide them. I asked for access to the girls. They said that because of confidentiality, that could not happen. I told them I wouldn’t use their names, but I wouldn’t do the story without meeting some of the girls involved. I also said I needed some way of determining how big a problem this was.
Back then, when people spoke of sex trafficking, I assumed they were referring to an international trade — the phenomenon of young women from China or Thailand or some other country being brought to the United States, then forced to pay back their transportation fees through sexual slavery. But these women I’d just met were telling me it was a homegrown problem. I wanted them to prove it.
When I searched for articles about child prostitution as a homegrown industry in other cities, I found only one story about an American-based prostitution ring that had exploited local minors somewhere in the Midwest.
Watch ‘Children for Sale: The Fight to End Human Trafficking’
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One of the first people I met was Fulton County Juvenile Judge Nina Hickson. Through her, I began to see what was wrong with this picture — what was wrong that day I sat in her courtroom and watched that little girl with the pigtail cry.
In Georgia in 2000, while children were being arrested, put in jail, and chained like the worst of criminals, the men selling them and having sex with them were rarely arrested.
Back then, there were no reliable statistics on the number of prostituted children. While the number of 300,000 nationwide was bandied about, I researched the genesis of that number and learned it was wildly speculative and had no basis in fact.
The human traffickers you never even notice
The human traffickers you never even notice 01:00
The best I could do was pull the numbers of adults who had gone to prison for prostitution in Georgia versus the number who had gone to prison for pimping. From 1972 to 1999, I found that 401 adults — almost all women — had been incarcerated for prostitution. Not one person had gone to prison for the crime of pimping. That told me something.
I remember the explanation given to me at the time by Mike Light, then the Department of Corrections spokesman and a former parole officer. “I think there was an unwitting bias that the woman was the perpetrator,” he said. “She was the one out having sex. …The pimp was just collecting the money.”
Because the numbers were so unreliable, my newspaper agreed to do a national survey of juvenile judges. We enlisted the help of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, who urged enough judges to respond that we were able to get a reliable sample.
A hidden problem
Child prostitution is a hidden problem that was — and still is — difficult to count.
Unlike adult women, these children — such as that 10-year-old girl — rarely came into the criminal justice system charged with prostitution. Rather they came in under a host of other charges, such as running away. Juvenile judges were often the first to identify them as sexually exploited minors who were working as prostitutes. And according to our survey, their numbers were growing.
Almost one in three of the juvenile judges surveyed said they had seen an increase in the past five years in the number of child prostitutes coming into their courtrooms. Rural judges participating in the survey reported the sharpest increase, with the typical rural judge seeing an average of three youths a month involved in prostitution.
Our survey suggested, however, that even judges viewed the problem differently, depending on their gender. Among female juvenile justices, 85% estimated they saw one or more child prostitutes a month, compared with 68% of male judges.
Read the original report
Selling Atlanta’s Children
The female judges were also more likely than male judges to complain that police weren’t aggressive enough in going after pimps and customers. Many judges participating in our survey said they believed the laws should be changed, mandating harsher penalties for pimps and “johns.”
One judge said the adults got away with exploiting children because “people don’t believe children, particularly if they’re a naughty, bad, unpleasant child.” A majority of the judges said their communities lacked services for child prostitutes in need of being “deprogrammed,” with 10 times as many judges saying they should be treated as victims rather than criminals.
Atlanta police said at the time it was a lot harder to arrest pimps than prostitutes.
As undercover officers, they could pluck the prostitutes off the streets as the girls or women worked the “track,” such as Metropolitan Parkway, or turned tricks at strip clubs, where underaged girls illegally danced. The pimps were more hidden.
Even if police were able to make an arrest, prosecutors said it was difficult to build a case against the men. They needed witnesses, but the general rule was that prostitutes didn’t testify against their boss, the pimp, out of reluctance or fear.
The problem, Judge Hickson said at the time, was that police and prosecutors often failed to distinguish between prostitutes who were adults and those who were children.
The children who were coming into her courtroom weren’t seen as victims by law enforcement, she said. “They’re seen as consenting participants.”
Partly in response to that perception, I told her I needed to find a girl 12 or younger who was allegedly being prostituted. I felt if I could paint a picture of a child who was being prostituted, as opposed to a teenager, the exploitative nature of this problem would become more real to our readers. I told her I would not use any names without her approval, as I understood the dangerous lives these young people were leading. Eventually, after she contacted other judges familiar with stories I’d done involving child victims, I think she decided it was worth the risk.
She called me one day and said, “What about a 10-year-old?” Soon after, I was in her courtroom when they brought in the little girl.
The judge explained that the last thing she wanted to do with this child was to keep her behind bars, which is where her 11-year-old sister had been waiting for three weeks. “But I’ve got to make sure she’s safe,” the judge said. There was just nowhere to put children like these because of a lack of children’s programs in Georgia.
There were plenty of beds for bad children needing punishment, but practically none for young exploited victims needing help.
At the court hearing, Hickson was clearly frustrated. She accused child welfare officials of not doing enough to find some place to put the two sisters other than jail. The probation officer complained they had done nothing to get the girls’ mother into drug treatment.
Hickson said she had never intended to keep them locked up more than a few days, and she was angry she had had to schedule this hearing to force the child welfare officials to act. They told the judge they worried about sending the girls home to their mother, whose life was controlled by drugs.
When the child told the judge she wanted to go home, Hickson said to her, “I don’t want you locked up either. But I’m also concerned about your safety and whether you’re going to stay with your mom. Are you going to stay at your mother’s?”
“Yes, ma’am,” the child said.
After the hearing, the judge took me back to her chambers where she allowed me to interview the little girl. Her eyes red from crying, the child said she was sorry for what she had done.
She said if she could, she would “change back the hand of time.” She said a relative’s boyfriend had led the sisters into prostitution. At first he “was buying us stuff.” She said she realized something was wrong “because of what he wanted in return.” He wanted money “by my prostituting.”
“He forced me. He wouldn’t let me go.” She said he took her sister and her to a hotel on Fulton Industrial Boulevard in Atlanta.
As she sat hunched over with her hands partly hiding her face, she said softly that he threatened to kill her if she left. “He’d pull my hair, and he punched me.” She was very frightened of him.
She said she would like to tell other girls her age, “Stay in school. Don’t waste your life on something like this. Some people have caught HIV and AIDS.”
She said she wanted to go back to school. Her elementary school had a mentoring program. And then this 10-year-old little girl — with no hope and no one in her life who loved and cared for her — said that more than anything, she wanted a mentor. “It would help me be better off in life,” she said. “Much better than I am.”
That day, Hickson ordered that both girls be returned home and without electronic monitors, as child welfare officials had requested. Three weeks later, the 10-year-old ran away again. Eventually police picked her up and returned her to the youth jail, where she remained while officials tried to figure out what to do with her.
“It’s not the judge’s fault,” Alesia Adams said at the time. Adams was head of Victims of Prostitution, a newly formed program to help children like the 10-year-old. “It’s not anybody’s fault. There’s just no place for these kids to go.”
In the past 15 years, I’ve thought of that child, as well as the other girls I met and profiled for the newspaper series. I’ve wondered what happened to them. The 10-year-old would be 25 today. If she’s alive.
Changing industry, changing laws
Since I wrote that series, a lot has changed. And a lot hasn’t.
Soon after my stories ran in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, people such as Hickson, Stephanie Davis and Alesia Adams convinced the Georgia Legislature to change state law so that pimping minors was no longer a misdemeanor but a felony, with prison sentences of up to 20 years, depending on the child’s age.
It was a start.
Prosecutors such as Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard called child prostitution possibly “one of the largest problems facing our young people today.” He said more than a new law was needed, and he began more aggressively prosecuting men who were exploiting minors while calling on police to more aggressively identify and arrest them.
The Atlanta Women’s Foundation set up “Angela’s Fund” to raise money to help children exploited as prostitutes. Soon Angela’s House was born as a residential safe house for a small number of children victimized by commercial sexual exploitation. While Angela’s House no longer exists, eventually two other safe houses have taken its place, thanks in part to a growing number of individuals and organizations concerned about the problem, such as youthSpark, Street Grace and Wellspring Living.
Each year, these organizations promote a “Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children Lobby Day” to continue calling attention to the problem.
In 2011, they succeeded in winning passage of House Bill 200: Georgia’s Human Trafficking Law, which again increased penalties for trafficking, required training for the proper response by law enforcement and emphasized the need to treat those who were being commercially exploited as victims rather than criminals.
This year, Gov. Nathan Deal of Georgia signed two new measures, both sponsored by Sen. Renee Unterman, a Republican from Buford. Senate Resolution 7 would permit an annual $5,000 fee paid by strip clubs to go toward housing, counseling and other services for victims of child prostitution, if voters approve. The resolution sets up a statewide referendum that will be on the ballot in November 2016.
Senate Bill 8, known as Rachel’s Law and the Safe Harbor Law, lays out how the money would be collected and spent. It also ensures that sexually exploited youths are treated as victims, not criminals, specifically stating that children who have been sexually exploited may no longer be charged with prostitution.
Hickson, today an ethics officer for the city of Atlanta, was there for the bills’ signing.
“The level of awareness certainly has increased,” she said in a recent interview. She believes the perception of human trafficking has also changed and is no longer viewed exclusively as a problem among immigrants from other countries.
“I think people today understand it is a homegrown problem,” she said. “You have people acknowledging that the problem exists in our metro area, and the children need to be treated as children with problems as opposed to problem children.”
But, she said, it remains critical to keep the public glare on the problem.
From the streets to the Internet
And that’s not easy, because if this societal problem was hidden before, it’s gone underground today.
Internet and cell phones have changed everything, according to Hickson and law enforcement officers. While young girls can still be seen walking the “track” in some well-known areas of Fulton and DeKalb counties, in the core of the Atlanta metro area, they are as likely to be advertised on the Internet.
A number of girls and women have set up their own ads that are prominently displayed on a plethora of websites, one of the biggest being “Backpage.com,” which filled the gap after Craigslist was sued and in 2010 shut down its money-making adult services section. Backpage’s escort and body-rubs section brings in millions in revenue each month, according to a 2013 report by an advertising consultant company, the AIM Group. Backpage “has succeeded Craigslist as the nation’s leading publisher of online prostitution advertising,” the report said.
(Earlier this summer, Visa, American Express and MasterCard all cut their ties with the website.) Calls and emails to representatives of Backpage were not returned.
To understand how endemic the Internet is to the world of prostitution, consider the website “The Erotic Review,” or TER. It has been around so long, there are johns who make it their business to go see escort after escort, then review them on TER. They call themselves “hobbyists,” and they post explicit descriptions of the services others can expect from a girl, whether the girl has a bad attitude or whether she’s posted a picture that makes her look better than she does in person. Attempts to reach TER have been unsuccessful.
Pimps who once exploited girls by making them walk the track can now troll the Internet for girls who are going it alone, sometimes luring them into escort services with an offer of higher salaries, payment to cover the cost of their ads and an apartment where they can rendezvous with their clients.
That means that for the 14-year-old girl from an impoverished area who is just getting started and doesn’t understand what she’s getting into, “a pimp will come along and say, ‘Instead of you staying out there in the wind or the cold, I’ll put you in a warm apartment and you’ll make a lot,’ ” says a seasoned law enforcement officer and former vice and narcotics detective. “Anyone who runs an escort agency and gets a cut from your profit prostituting, they’re pimping.”
As prostitution has moved indoors and underground, the community is less likely to see it on the streets and complain to police. So there’s less involvement by police, who are driven to respond by the community’s complaints.
That’s bad for the young victims, the officer says, as well as for the community because the sexual exploitation of underage youth remains a booming business. He worries that while demand remains strong, too many young girls — and some boys — are lured into prostitution out of view of the public and police and without understanding the consequences.
“The biggest impact is on the girls themselves,” he says. “It has a psychological, moral impact on a girl, and she doesn’t realize what she’s sacrificing. A lot of these girls become drug addicts. This is happening all over Atlanta. After 10 years, if you survive the diseases, a potential criminal record, and the psychological toil, you suddenly realize you have no education or marketable skills.
“Once you lose your looks, you’re back in the same place you started in. Any time you take a productive young person out of the mainstream of society and point her toward a criminal enterprise, which prostitution is, that’s never good.”
She said that while she is hopeful about the new laws, the growing awareness and the numbers of people and organizations fighting against child prostitution, she worries there’s a “flavor of the month” aspect; that child prostitution is a “topic that’s in style.”
“If this is a shallow issue for people, it will dissipate when the next issue comes along,” she said. Fifteen years ago, I wrote that Hickson “looks into the eyes of children who have been prostituted and she sees nothing. No hope. No dreams. No more childhood.”
Like that 10-year-old girl.
Some years after that child had stood before Hickson, the former judge got word about what had happened to her and her older sister.
For a while, they were in the care of the Department of Family and Children Services because of their mother’s ongoing drug addiction. But at some point, their mother got into a drug treatment program and eventually the girls went home.
“It was touch and go,” Hickson said. “But last I heard, they were in school.”
In the meantime, Hickson and a number of others remain committed to rescuing young girls and boys from the destruction of sexual exploitation. Top of their agenda now is to ensure that voters support the $5,000 annual fee on strip clubs in next year’s referendum.
“We have to remain vigilant because the adult entertainment industry has deep pockets,” Hickson said. “This is long-term work. There has to be a level of commitment.
-These little girls and the boys that are involved, are VICTIMS and to shackle them is an affront to all sane thinking people! The pimps need to be put in hard labor camps and the system needs to aggressively start programs to protect, rehabilitate and educate these victims to a better future! Licensing needs to be enacted for the privilege of bringing a child into the world, not the incentive of being able to sit your lazy ass on welfare! So many of these victims started as being pimped by their trailer trash mom’s boyfriends. Many were kidnapped out of good environments, yes, but millions of children born into poverty by irresponsible, ignorant parents become the ‘easy pickings.’
It is NOT A RIGHT to have a child, no matter what any knee-jerk asshole believes! It is the most important job a person will EVER do! I will continue to be as active in my community as possible and will pass out literature to open people’s eyes to this tragedy, but the people also need to put pressure on the Government to pass laws protecting these victims and that target and utterly destroy the lives of the pimps and johns involved in human trafficking!
And in ‘I thought that the rhythm method was reliable,’ news. Abstinence advocate and complete hypocrite Bristol Palin went in again, balls deep, to announce yet another out-of-wedlock pregnancy that will most likely end with the birth of a child with a name like Tarp or Slap or Trank, or some other redneck moniker along those lines. We atheists don’t really give a rat’s ass what this climate change denying throwback does with her vagina, we only care that she is a fucking bigot and that she has received over $300,000 heading up a ‘Charity’ that promotes abstinence as the only effective birth control method and flying in the face of the fact that fucking is a drive more powerful than eating!
This ‘Charity’ has raked in over a million bucks of which only $30,000 of that has actually been donated, while the rest went to pay the huge paychecks of Bristol Palin and the bogus board that heads up this obvious comical farce. This, of course, has demonstrated what a load of shit the whole abstinence deal is and what an effective tool birth control is. Palin, who is best known for her slope-browed bigoted opinions and her bar fighting skills, demanded from people that she not be lectured for being a fucking hypocrite and down right liar who has profited of of the persecution of others.
I really don’t care about this poor excuse of a human being who was able to fleece so many out of hard earned money for her tours and book deals. The fact that so many vapid ignorant sheeple made her ridiculous ‘reality show’ successful only serves to demonstrate how some people deserve to be conned. One can only imagine the mindset of a person who could actually take that family serious or follow anything that they do. They are all embarrassments to the human race and bigoted, myth-following Neanderthals. Hopefully these Cro-Magnon fucks will crawl back into the cave from whence they came and leave the modern world alone with their trailer-trash antics and fucked up politics.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Ky. – In a rolling Kentucky pasture, the first few wooden ribs of a giant Noah’s ark tourist attraction have begun to sprout up.
For now, there’s only a foundation, some concrete pillars and the ribs. But the Christian ministry building the ark says the public will be awe-struck by the size of the 510-foot-long ship when it’s finished next year.
“This is going to be huge attraction just for the structure itself,” said Ken Ham, founder of the Kentucky-based group, Answers in Genesis.
On Thursday, journalists were allowed to tour the site for the first time — following a hard rainfall, as it turned out.
The religious theme park project that was announced nearly five years ago is still afloat, after hitting a stretch of rough waters. The ministry had to break the project into phases after private funding stalled a few years ago due to a soft economy. The ark is the first phase, and plans for other attractions at the site were put on hold.
Answers in Genesis says it will pour nearly $90 million of private donations and bond funding into the attraction, which will be called the Ark Encounter. So far, Ham said, about $70 million has been raised.
The Christian group says it has researched the Noah story to determine the size of the boat. In the Bible account, the ark was built by Noah to carry pairs of all the earth’s animals as the world was destroyed by a flood.
“Most people don’t really understand the size of the ark, and we’re going to answer questions like, how could he fit all the animals on board,” Ham said at the construction site Thursday.
Ham’s ministry opened the Creation Museum in 2007 a few miles from here. It has drawn criticism from science educators for exhibits that challenge evolution and promote a view that the earth is about 6,000 years old.
TV star and educator Bill Nye, who suggests the tourist-friendly ark could divert young people away from science, debated Ham on evolution at a widely-seen event at the Creation Museum last year. Nye said if Noah’s ark had actually been built, it would have been destroyed by the sea.
The big boat project took another hit last year when the state of Kentucky withdrew a tourism sales tax incentive that would have meant about $18 million for the attraction after it is up and running.
State officials said in December that tax incentives shouldn’t be used to “fund religious indoctrination.” Answers in Genesis disagreed and filed a federal lawsuit to get back into the incentive program, saying they should not be excluded because of their religious beliefs. The state has asked a judge to dismiss the suit, and a hearing is scheduled for next week.
Ham said the ark attraction is meant to reach more people “with God’s word.”
“But we’re not forcing people to come here, they come of their own free will,” Ham said. “And when they come here and go through, we’re not going to be forcing them to believe our message, we don’t do that. They’re going to have a great experience regardless of whether they agree with us or not.”
-Ken Ham, the complete idiot who believes that Tinkerbell really CAN fly, said the the exhibit, based on the complete bullshit myth that all of the fucking animals in the world came to a wooden ship of their own free will, will inspire single-celled organisms to further believe in misogynistic assholish bigotry and will, in the future, completely crush the Supreme Court and those meddlesome gays once and for all. Ham was also witnessed talking to his own dick and shoving flowers into his own pee hole…..
Joel Osteen recently reported the theft of $600,000 from the safe in his church, but the theft wasn’t the only information of interest revealed. After finding out that this large chunk of money was from just one weekend of Osteen’s collected church donations, jaws dropped around the nation.
According to News Max on March 18, it didn’t take long for folks on the outside to do the math. Based on Osteen’s reported amount of money in this theft, it appears his Lakewood Church takes in an estimated $32 million a year, but some say that is a very low estimate. Calculator keys were punched around the nation taking the $600,000 for Olsteen’s weekend donation collection and multiplying this by the 52 weeks in a year.
Many consider this a conservative estimate of donations this church receives, as March is just an average month with no holidays for the church. The spirit of giving around the Christmas holidays has to net this church more than the average week. Then there’s Easter and other holidays, not to mention the weekdays. The amount reported taken from the church was only for their take over a weekend.
Osteen’s church released a statement at the time of the theft last week saying:
“It is important to note this was not an electronic data breach, but was instead limited to donations made in the services on March 8 and 9, 2014. You were not affected if you put your offering in a drop box, you gave online or through other electronic means, or you made a bookstore purchase.”
If you combine the stolen money with what Osteen’s church rakes in from “other electronic means” and from the folks who give “online,” this amount must be astronomical. The “electronic” and “online” donations were an undisclosed amount of money that wasn’t included in the money stolen. Putting all this together you are more than likely talking about a substantial amount of money, much more than the estimate of $32 million each year.
With Osteen’s best selling books, his TV work and the tours around the world, Osteen and his church are more than likely reaping rewards that are unimaginable.
If you think about it, this heist got the sum of money that you’d expect to hear was raked in from a casino heist! It seems that the reported theft of the money in Osteen’s church last week opened a new can of worms. It’s the church’s astronomical donations that should really be the headlines here. What happened to the days of the poor boxes filled with change?
-Funny how stupid people can be huh? 99.99% of these people are taking an 84 Billion dollar a year tax break on their backs and have been for some time!
Wells Fargo’s gay couple ad sparks evangelist protest
By Jackie Wattles @jackiewattles
In April, Wells Fargo became the first American bank to feature an LGBT relationship in its ads
Christian Evangelist Franklin Graham has sparked an angry Facebook debate about gay rights when he announced he is pulling all of his organization’s millions out of Wells Fargo accounts in response to the bank’s recent ad campaign featuring a lesbian couple.
“Have you ever asked yourself–how can we fight the tide of moral decay that is being crammed down our throats by big business, the media, and the gay & lesbian community?” Graham wrote in a Facebook post on June 5. “At the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, we are moving our accounts from Wells Fargo to another bank.”
That new bank will be BB&T, the association confirmed. But social media users were quick to point out the North Carolina-based bank is a sponsor for Miami Beach Gay Pride, an annual festival celebrating the LGBT community.
In response to Graham’s decision, BB&T’s chief corporate communications officer, Cythina Williams, issued a statement saying the bank “embraces diversity and inclusion for our associates and in all aspects of our business” — but the company declined to take a formal position on gay rights, saying its sponsorship of the gay pride event does not imply an endorsement.
Graham’s association is moving forward either way. A spokesperson confirmed the organization has begun the 30-day process of moving its accounts, which could total more than $100 million. According to the most recent financial disclosure forms available for the nonprofit, BGEA was worth $128 million in 2013.
Graham is the 62-year-old son of famed televangelist Billy Graham, who became internationally known in the 1950s for his large religious rallies and radio/TV sermons. The younger Graham now heads the North Carolina-based Billy Graham Evangelistic Association — which continues to broadcast sermons, coordinate community service and offers a $99 online school of Evangelism.
In addition to closing his accounts with Wells Fargo, Graham wrote that he plans to boycott Tiffany & Co. (TIF) in response to an ad the jeweler released in January that shows two men getting engaged.
Franklin Graham is the president and CEO of Billy Graham Evangelistic Association
Graham’s Facebook (FB, Tech30) post received more 95,000 likes and 42,600 shares, but not all responses were positive. Its 11,000-plus comments contain a slew of angered users that disagree with Graham’s stance.
“It is so hypocritical of him and so many others to pick just the one rule from a plethora of rules that allows them to discriminate against a group of people that they consider less than,” one user, Betty Miliano, wrote in a recent comment. “They know that they have lost this battle and are on the wrong side of history.”
Related: Bogus gay marriage study sends news outlets scrambling
Wells Fargo (CBEAX) stood behind its ad campaign and issued a statement saying its support of the LGBT community “reflects our company’s values.”
“We were not naive to think that there would be no negative responses,” Wells Fargo spokesperson Valerie Williams said. She added that the vast majority of reactions to the ad were not in line with Graham’s, and overall the response was “overwhelmingly positive.”
Tiffany & Co. also responded to Graham’s post. Spokesperson Carson Glover said, “We want everyone who shops with us to feel welcome and appreciated.” He also pointed to a February press release from the company saying the nontraditional couples depicted in the ad “represent the spectrum of people who visit Tiffany every day.”
Graham is also the president and CEO of the $200 million humanitarian aid nonprofit Samaritan’s Purse, though a spokesperson for the organization said its finances are handled by a different bank.
-How about you take your assets and stuff them up your myth-believing, hate speech riddled asshole, you tent revival, bible-beating bigot!! Fuck you and fuck your church of the poisoned mind you Chik-Fil-A gobbling jackass!
Sisters Jill, Jessa open up about Josh Duggar’s abuse
Two of Josh Duggar’s sex-abuse victims, sisters Jill Dillard and Jessa Seewald, told their stories in the second part of an exclusive interview with Fox News. VPC
Two of Josh Duggar’s sex-abuse victims — sisters Jill Dillard, 24, and Jessa Seewald, 22 — told their stories in the second part of an exclusive interview with Megyn Kelly on Fox’s The Kelly File.
The interview, which was previously recorded, aired Friday night on Fox.
Seewald defends her 27-year-old brother, who inappropriately touched four of his sisters and a family friend during his teen years.
“I do want to speak up in his defense against people who are calling him a child molester or pedophile or a rapist, some people are saying,” Seewald told Kelly. “I’m like, ‘That is so overboard and a lie really.’ I mean, people get mad at me for saying that, but I can say this because I was one of the victims.”
USA TODAY does not usually name victims, but in this case, they have named themselves.
Dillard, who was 12 at the time of the molestation, said, “I was shocked. And I’m sad because this is my older brother who I love a lot. I was angry at first. I was like, ‘How could that happen?’ ”
Seewald said she was 9 or 10 years old during the situation. “In Josh’s case, he was a young boy in puberty and a little too curious about girls. And that got him into some trouble,” she said.
The women said that their parents put up safeguards in the home, including not allowing the boys to babysit, locking doors at night, not playing hide-and-seek or being alone with each other.
Both sisters said that they were unaware of Duggar’s actions until their parents sat them down individually. “It wasn’t like we were keeping a secret,” Dillard said.
Seewald got teary-eyed when she spoke about the InTouch article that came out last month. “I was in tears. I couldn’t believe what was going on.” She said she called her husband. “How do they have a right to do this? We’re victims, they can’t do this to us.” They both told Kelly that they felt victimized again by having the story appear in a tabloid years after it had happened.
The InTouch story, which included pictures of 2006 police documents it was based on, reported in May that Duggar was investigated for multiple sex offenses, including forcible fondling of breasts and genitals, against five underage girls. Some of the alleged offenses investigated were felonies.
In his statement, Duggar said he confessed to his parents and they “took several steps” to address the situation. He also apologized to the victims.
“We spoke with the authorities where I confessed my wrongdoing, and my parents arranged for me and those affected by my actions to receive counseling,” he said. “I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life.”
Duggar was never charged with a crime, and the statute of limitations has now expired.
InTouch reported that his father took Duggar to an Arkansas state trooper who was a personal friend, who took no action other than a “very stern talk.” That officer is now serving a 56-year term in prison for child pornography, the magazine reported, and no case was ever brought against Duggar.
During the first interview, which aired Wednesday, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, the Christian conservative reality-TV stars of 19 Kids and Counting, talked about how son Josh approached them and told them that he had “improperly touched” some of their daughters. Josh was a teen at the time.
“We were shocked, we were devastated,” Michelle Duggar told Kelly in the first interview. “As parents, we felt we’re failures. We tried to raise our kids to do what’s right — to know what’s right. And yet one of our children made really bad choices.” The pair were interviewed at their home in Tontitown, Ark.
The Duggars said that in 2002 and 2003, when he was 14 and 15, Josh had groped the girls while they slept (the girls slept in the same room), and that he did this more than once even after his first confession to his parents.
They got him out of the house and sent him to a non-professional Christian-based counseling program in Little Rock, Ark. Jim Bob Duggar said it was “the best decision” they made, because Josh became “closer to God” as a result. “It was a turning point in his life,” he said.
The TLC network has pulled the show’s reruns from its schedule but has not decided whether to cancel the series entirely. Meanwhile, advertisers, including General Mills, Payless Shoes and Choice Hotels, have cut ties with the family of the popular show.
In the aftermath of the first interview, folks have come out for and against the family.
On Twitter, viewers slammed the Duggars for defending their actions as parents. They also took shots at Kelly for how she conducted the interview.
Montel Williams tweeted, “What the hell is the point of interviewing ANYONE if you aren’t asking questions that matter? Not asking #Duggars tough questions=stupid.”
Piers Morgan agreed.
Sarah Palin posted a diatribe on her Facebook page on Thursday, defending the Duggar family and attacking Girls star Lena Dunham.
“Hey Lena, why not laugh off everyone’s sexual ‘experiments’ as you haughtily enjoy rewards for your own perversion? You pedophile you,” Palin wrote. She was referring to when Dunham came under fire for a passage in her memoir, Not That Kind of Girl, where the actress said at age 7 she would bribe her little sister with candy for kisses and to see her genitals.
-I actually believe that this kid suffered from complete oppression and suppression of natural behavior and urges arising from puberty and was shamed by his parents into never showing his budding sexual urges. Hell, this kid could get into hot water just for beating off! How do you develop healthy sexual urges when a bunch of fools raise you to believe that a monstrous mythological being will damn you to rot and burn forever for having the natural urge to flog your dick?
exodus amid scandal
By Frank Pallotta @frankpallotta
TLC pulls ’19 Kids and Counting’ over Duggar scandal
TLC’s “19 Kids and Counting” has lost more than a dozen sponsors since one of the show’s stars, Josh Duggar, admitted last week that he had molested several girls when he was a teenager.
Companies including Ace Hardware, ConAgra foods, Party City, BEHR Paint, Pure Leaf Ice Tea, Ricola, Firehouse Subs, Pizza Hut, Sherwin-Williams paint, Crayola, Allstate Insurance, and King’s Hawaiian have pulled their sponsorship from the reality TV show, which has run on the network since 2008.
Those companies join Walgreens, General Mills, Payless ShoeSource, and Choice Hotels who have previously said they were yanking their ads from the show.
Each of these companies took to social media to explain to fans and consumers that they were ending sponsorship of the show.
“We share your concern for the safety of children and have no plans to air Crayola commercials during future episodes,” Crayola tweeted Wednesday.
Duggar, who is now 27, apologized last week following an In Touch Magazine report about the molesations.
Related: ’19 Kids and Counting’ episodes yanked over scandal
“Twelve years ago, as a young teenager I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret. I hurt others, including my family and close friends,” Duggar wrote on Facebook last week. “I would do anything to go back to those teen years and take different actions. In my life today, I am so very thankful for God’s grace, mercy and redemption.”
In response, on Friday TLC pulled all episodes of “19 Kids” from the air saying, “We are deeply saddened and troubled by this heartbreaking situation, and our thoughts and prayers are with the family and victims at this difficult time.”
The network and parent company Discovery Communications have not yet indicated if the show will return.
With so many sponsors pulling away from the show, the channel finds itself on the defensive dealing with an advertising exodus.
TLC did not immediately respond when asked for comment.
-Does anyone actually wonder why, in 2015, that this show about a bunch of science-denying, hate-speech spewing fucks had become such a hit? People are fucking cattle who love pablum that puts the mind to sleep! Fuck these Duggars and their repulsive attempts to bolster ancient mythology in modern times and fuck the ignorant bullshit channels that broadcast this drivel! Of course the sponsors are out, they are going to lose money by continuing to back these throwback fanatics! They only care about the money, not the damage that the Duggars do teaching their incredible host of lies!