Don’t Go Quietly
by Lesley Eischen
[Warning: Strong Content]
On October 19th, 2012 men and women by the dozens converged on the Embassy Suites in downtown Des Moines, Iowa for the 10th Annual Preventing Abuse Conference to learn how to prevent child abduction, the exploitation of women and children and human trafficking. The circular tables spread amply across the banquet room seating people with vocations from law enforcement to pastors to stay at home mothers and everything in between. The speakers would prove to be equally eclectic and the information they provided bountiful.
The theme of the conference was to identify the problems and focus on the solutions with the goal to educate, motivate and activate. Its goal was achieved.
The common thread through the course of the conference is that human trafficking is no respecter of persons. A person’s age, race, economic status, education, location or otherwise doesn’t matter. Human trafficking is insidious to our nation as it is firmly rooted in the moral collapse of our society.
It was emphasized that not every organization that claims to be working for the victims are actually doing so. Human trafficking awareness is happening nationally and internationally and continuing to grow. It is important to verify if an organization is truly advocating for victims and not part of the trend. Some people have made the choice to be a part of this issue, others were forced into it. Human trafficking advocacy is not a hobby and the victims of human trafficking are not a pet project, they live it day in and day out.
Don’t be afraid to ask individuals and organizations probing questions like how many children did they bring home this week? Or how many prostitutes did you get off the street this week? Or how many pedophiles did you put in jail? Or how many traffickers were imprisoned because of your efforts? Or how many victims received counseling and care under your organization this month? Or are they making people aware and aware and aware…and that the money they bring in is paying their salary? Or do they think that pornography is a right of free speech and then somehow expect to be able to confront human trafficking?
Believe it or not, pornography is effecting our Department of Defense. It started in 2006 when an ICE child pornography sting operation called Project Flicker produced payment records of about fifty two hundred people, many of whom provided Army or fleet zip codes or military e-mail addresses.
According to reports, the Pentagon’s investigative branch, DCIS, began going through the ICE list to identify who was a DOD employee or a contractor. The investigation only ran for eight months and only cross checking approximately thirty five hundred names for Pentagon ties.
DCIS documents revealed in a Freedom of Information Act request, out of those thirty five hundred, investigators uncovered two hundred and sixty four employees or contractors, including staffers for the secretary of defense and contractors at the NSA. Further, nine of these people had top security clearances.
But only about twenty percent of the two hundred and sixty four people were thoroughly investigated. Fewer were prosecuted and after eight months the entire probe was halted which left about seventeen hundred names that weren’t investigated. That leaves seventeen hundred possible child pornography consumers who may still work in some capacity for the Department of Defense.
After several media outlets began their own investigations into the allegations a Pentagon spokesman promised to reopen the investigation, conceding that DCIS had stopped due to lack of resources. According to DCIS they have now identified three hundred and two employees or staffers.
The DOD’s Inspector General states, “Any suggestion that the DOD Office of Inspector General or its criminal investigative arm, the DCIS, is not taking Operation Flicker and the issue of child pornography seriously is in error.”
But Senator Grassley from Iowa says he is still not getting the cooperation he needs from the Pentagon.
The Senator states, “We ought to find out, because we’re talking about not just general pornography here. We’re talking about child pornography. And child pornography, taking that down, is a crime. And, also, it’s — there’s an added factor here, considering the fact that there’s a lot of security information, national security information that the world shouldn’t know, that a lot of times foreign operatives will use this sort of criminal activity to blackmail, to get information. So, there are a lot of things that are involved because it’s a Defense Department issue, as opposed to any other department of government.”
If anyone believes that pornography is a right of free speech, they are not part of the solution, they are part of the problem. What you normalize you will not stand against. If you decry pornography or any form of human trafficking you restore the honor of women and children.
Tania, a former prostitute, multiple brothel owner and Madame to hundreds of women, said it was her job to keep the secret of the men in church that are in bondage to pornography. Her experience suggests upwards of sixty seven percent of the men in church are involved in pornography. Men have expressed their fear of confessing to their leaders because of losing their position in church or the exposure of their sin. Tania strongly exhorts leaders to address this among the church body. Leaders will not be held guiltless for turning a blind eye and dispensing the duties of being shepherds of the flock.
Tania explains that it is common for those who consume pornography to move on to consuming prostitutes. She correlates pornography and prostitution to what she calls the “flesh trade”. Yet, she says, “It’s really not a trade, but paid rape”. It trades souls to despair and depravity. People are “buying flesh like it’s a meat market”. Just as they did to her when she was a prostitute and continued to do when they came into her brothels. People are even being trafficked for their organs. Yes, their organs.
Tania shared that President Obama recently gave a speech on how he wanted to abolish human trafficking. She added that the President gave another speech four years ago on how he not only wanted to end human trafficking in the United States but globally. She said that many of us might not be aware but all the President has to do it step outside his front door and turn right two blocks and it’s the busiest prostitution and trafficking area in Washington DC. Tania suggested that would be a good place to start.
In some places, the government allows the legalization of brothels, like in state of Nevada in the United States and areas in Canada where Tania is from.
In Canada the government charged Tania four thousand dollars a year for her business license yet the nail salon or coffee shop around the corner only paid one hundred seventy six dollars a year for a business license.
“That makes the government a pimp!” Tania quipped, followed by loud applause from the audience.
She continued, “Unlike drugs and guns the human body can be sold over and over and over again. With zero percent investment and four thousand percent annual return, averaging three hundred thousand dollars a year, per victim and these victims are sold until they are rescued, escape or die…How, in America, have we allowed women and children to be trafficked to the extent that they have to use numbing cream to ‘service’ thirty ‘customers’ a day.”
Tania stressed the need to find solutions for victims to seek justice against their traffickers. Many will not testify for fear of retribution. Tania is still fearful of her traffickers.
She concluded, “I’m now walking in obedience of my Lord, Jesus Christ. I thank Jesus for His restoration. So I want to say that I’ve really hurt a lot of people in my past. I stand here right now and I sincerely apologize to this audience for exploiting women and I ask your forgiveness.”
“Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered.” ~ Proverbs 21:13
Tony Nassif, President and Founder of The Preventing Abuse Conference, said he spoke to law enforcement before his first conference and they said that unless we address domestic trafficking we are wasting our time in trying to combat it globally. He went on to say that many of the victims, “are coming from broken homes, where they have been molested and assaulted, and they don’t have a father. They turn to the pimps and traffickers to pick them up, give them what they think is the love of a Dad, who provides food, shelter and clothing and then the traffickers want to collect because it’s time to pay the bills. The problem and the solution are with the family. Return to the moral foundation that our country was built on and the Bible exhorts.”
One of those men in law enforcement on the front line is Detective Sergeant Oscar Mejia. He reiterated that trafficking is as much a part of organized crime as drugs and weapons. Cartels are greatly involved in trafficking persons. The open borders are a pipeline not just for drugs and weapons but for people. Human traffickers access smuggling routes for persons the same as they do for drugs and weapons. Detective Mejia reminded us that social media has exploded the problem of trafficking. The internet is where predators learn to groom and subdue their victims and anyone who is good at what they do is because they have been practicing.
But there is another dark trend growing known as Santa Muerte or Saint Death, an occult figure. People, specifically criminals, bring offerings to this idol and offer them in worship such as candy, fruit, flowers, jewelry and notes as a way to pay their respects as they pray to her to assist them in committing their crimes. They believe she is protecting them during their criminal activity. Many see it as their religion. Some people even have the image tattooed on their bodies, although it is important to note that not everyone who has something with this symbol is a criminal but it may be an indication. The Catholic Church has denounced it as a demonic cult because of the Catholic elements to the worship.
Santa Muerte temples are popping up in communities created as shrines to the idol. Some of the temples have pews set up for people to sit and pray to Santa Muerte. It is also common for these criminals to seek out a ‘spiritual cleansing’ from the ‘curer’ of these temples or shrines just before they are going to commit a crime. The ‘curer’ will use a branch from a tree or something similar to ‘cleanse’ the criminal as they walk around waving the branch over them. Shops across the country sell the soaps for cleansing, the candles for the shrines, and similar items known to this occult. It’s not a crime to possess these things but it is when you use them for criminal acts.
Predators are looking for signs of vulnerability and they know what they are looking for. The way you stand, walk, talk, present yourself, your location, and any other ‘tells’. They prey on people in the temples who seem down trodden.
These are violent, violent criminals. Detective Mejia even shared the disturbing truth that beheadings happen right here in America to show power and intent of these cartels. He said Arizona is considered the kidnapping capitol of the country. Unfortunately, kidnapping is much more common than we might think. In the United States a child is kidnapped or goes missing every forty seconds.
Noreen Gosch, the mother of Johnny Gosch, who went missing from his newspaper route in West Des Moines, Iowa in 1982 shared Johnny’s story, their story, of what has transpired in the thirty years from the moment he disappeared to the thirtieth anniversary this year. Noreen articulated how the events unfolded and continue to develop with details few have heard. It’s difficult to imagine what it would take to see photo after photo of your abducted child, as Noreen presented to the audience, and maintain your composure to speak with such poise as she did. Because of her tenacity we can thank her for the ‘Johnny Gosch Law’, that provides for immediate investigation when a child goes missing. She is a pioneer in advocating against human trafficking.
Johnny was a boy in our community. We were of similar ages. Not much has changed, except perhaps, the sophistication of the criminal and the authorities hunting them down. If you live in Iowa today it would be nearly impossible not to have taken notice of the recent rash of attempted abductions, a string of continuous reports of these attempts and consequently, the disappearance of two Iowa girls now considered a case of abduction. The parents of Elizabeth Collins shared the details of the day their daughter and her cousin disappeared in broad daylight while out riding their bikes. Authorities believe the girls have been kidnapped. Drew and Heather Collins, Elizabeth’s parents, thanked everyone for their efforts in working to bring the girls home and asked that we continue to pray, not just for the girls but for those who took them.
Retired New York Detective, Jim Rothstein, recalled forty seven years ago when he witnessed the first child from the Midwest being prostituted in Time Square in New York City.
He would also corroborate Noreen Gosch’s story. Detective Rothstein and Noreen have known each other for years. He also believes that Johnny was abducted into human trafficking.
His undercover work, as well as his work with Noreen, has reinforced his recommendation for four laws that need to be put in place when it comes to the crimes of human trafficking:
- Any person, agency or other entity that interferes, threatens or harasses, impedes or in any way compromises an investigator, investigation, prosecution, or witness in human trafficking, pedophilia, pedophile criminal case or criminal use of children’s case is guilty of a felony with a mandatory five year penitentiary sentence.
- Anybody who uses human trafficking children for child pornography, pedophilia, to compromise, extort or to cause another person to do any unwilling act is guilty of a felony punishable by death.
- Anybody who buys sells or trades or in any way promotes enables or profits from human trafficking, pedophilia, human compromise or the use of children in a criminal matter is guilty of a felony punishable by death.
- Any informant, agency or prosecutor in law enforcement or any other authority that fails to act on any human trafficking, pedophilia, or criminal use of children without doing a complete investigation is guilty of a felony.
However, Robert Lowery and Charles Pickett from The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reminded us that law enforcement can’t be everywhere. We need to be the eyes and ears of our communities to report anything suspicious. Engagement of the public is one of the most powerful tools to law enforcement.
Mr. Lowery agrees that it’s not unreasonable to think our children should be able to walk to school safely or ride their bikes in our neighborhoods. Unfortunately, he also states that the reality is they are not safe. One glaring statistic provided was case studies of attempted abductions and that only nineteen percent were thwarted by a good Samaritan. The rest ran, kicked, screamed, or brought attention to themselves to be able to flee. The point being, disheartening as it is, we cannot rely on others to protect our children.
Another startling fact is that children can be ‘pre-ordered’. In other words, a predator can order the type of child they want and a trafficker will kidnap to fulfill that order. Mr. Lowery said that school websites, or ones like them, can be hunting grounds for predators. They look through website photos for identifying information to be able to abduct them. He suggested asking schools or any organization that posts pictures of children online to do so in groups without identifying the children by name.
In his expert opinion, and other speakers agreed, soft laws are not a deterrent and pedophiles cannot be rehabilitated. They will reoffend, which is why we need stricter laws throughout the country to protect women and children.
When all local, state and federal resources have been exhausted they send in guys like Baz. Baz, a former CIA officer and his team of former intelligence officers only have one primary goal: bring the child home. Baz and his team have a one hundred percent success rate. Every child they have gone after is brought home.
Baz schooled the audience with raw facts. He told us that people find it difficult to believe that a parent would sell their child into trafficking. But they do. He asked, “Why has something so heinous been allowed to continued with apathy?” Good question. He suggested, “You can mold the actions of an entire society if you can influence the way they think.”
We are inundated with propaganda. Some of it is blatant but other times it is subtle and incremental. We are a consumer society. Products are solely for the purpose of being used and discarded, and that includes people. The ability to toss aside lives without a second thought. People have become products.
Such is the case of three year old Shannon, who was abducted by her estranged father. Shannon’s father led law enforcement on a three year chase trying to hunt him down and return Shannon to her mother, Mandalyn. It wasn’t until Baz and his team became involved that Shannon was returned to her mother.
Baz shared the video of the reunion and Mandalyn’s anticipation was palpable. She was physically trembling. It was the most quiet the conference would be all day as we listened and watched little Shannon returned to her mother. Mandalyn sat with a couple of relatives in small room waiting for Shannon and Baz to come through the closed door.
You could hear Baz and Shannon talking as they walked down the hall outside the room and at the same time you heard Mandalyn softly pray, “Dear God, let Shannon be brave…I hear her…”
The next thing you hear drawing closer in the background is Shannon’s small voice say, “Where is she?”
As Baz and Shannon come through the door, Mandalyn and Shannon see each other for the first time in over three years and Mandolyn says, “Hey baby, Shannon, Shannon, hey my baby, it’s okay.”
She hugs her child mightily and says, “You look so pretty. I love you so much and I’ve missed you, I missed you baby, do you know that?” Mama’s been looking for you. Do you know that?”
Shannon, in her small but clear voice says, “It’s been so long since I’ve seen ya, I didn’t know what you look like.”
“Do you remember what Mama looks like now?” Mandalyn inquires. “Mmmhmm.” Shannon responds.
Mandalyn unable to restrain her motherly instinct says, “I missed you. You look so pretty, can I give you another hug? I don’t want to let you go. I want to hug you for the rest of my life. It’s been so long. I have missed you so.”
In that moment you couldn’t help but glance across the room to the faces of Noreen Gosch and the Collin’s family and sense the longing and brokenness no words would adequately describe or soothe.
Mandalyn allows only enough room between Shannon and herself to see her daughter’s face and asks, “What’s your favorite color? Is pink your favorite color? You’ve always liked pink since you were a baby. Now you’re a big girl. “
“I’m six!” Exclaimed Shannon.
“I know. You’re a big girl.” Mandalyn reassured Shannon.
And a rescued girl.
We can’t all be a ‘Baz’ but we can be conscious of the consumerism, the devaluing of life and lead by example in our immediate sphere of influence. It’s how we confront the apathy and atrocities among us, with the hope of making the difference in saving a life instead of throwing it away. One small step will grow from there. Hold those in leadership accountable. Be accountable as individuals. Don’t go quietly. Be an advocate.
“Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.” Isaiah 1:17
Tony Nassif, Preventing Abuse Foundation: http://www.preventingabuse.org/index.html
Opening scripture with prayer: http://www.esvbible.org/search/proverbs+10/
Anderson Cooper interviews Senator Charles Grassely: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJyTaHiS3OQ
Tania Fiolleau, Save the Women: http://www.savethewomen.ca/
Noreen Gosch: http://www.johnnygosch.com/
30th Anniversary of missing paperboy Johnny Gosch: http://westdesmoines.patch.com/articles/30-years-after-johnny-gosh-vanished-iowa-s-innocence-abducted#photo-11202568
If you have any information about Elizabeth Collins or Lyric Cook Morrissey please call the Evansdale Police Department at (319) 232-6682 or the Black Hawk County Sheriff’s Office at (319) 291-2515 or the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation at 1-800-346-5507.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children: http://www.missingkids.com/missingkids/servlet/PublicHomeServlet?LanguageCountry=en_US&
Operation Refuge in Iowa 1-885-YOU-MATTER http://www.operationrefuge.org/MAIN/
Association for the Recovery of Children: http://www.associationfortherecoveryofchildren.org/about_ARC.html
Shannon’s story: http://www.associationfortherecoveryofchildren.org/testimonials.html
Dale Whiting & Associates, moral money management: http://www.dalerwhiting.com/new/dalewhiting/