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For New York Families in Custody Fights, a ‘Black Hole’ of Oversight

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York By Joaquin Sapien, ProPublicaWhen Anna Frank lost custody of her 9-year-old son, she blamed her husband and the judge who decided the case in his favor.She also faulted Barbara Burkhard, a psychologist appointed to evaluate the family and advise the court on the matter. According to Frank, Burkhard concluded—after meeting Frank once and without interviewing her son—that their claims of abuse were invented and that Frank had poisoned her child against his father.Frank ultimately regained custody of her son, based partly on testimony from other psychologists who disputed Burkhard’s contentions. But before she did, she sought sanctions against Burkhard from the agency that oversees licensed psychologists in New York.Frank’s densely detailed, 12-page complaint to the Office of Professional Discipline was never investigated, let alone acted upon.“Due to our inability to access records or discuss the services rendered with this psychologist, we are unable to investigate this matter or to initiate disciplinary action based upon your complaint,” a letter from the office, from the spring of 2012, explained. “I am sorry we cannot be of more assistance to you.”The office’s response was typical, a ProPublica examination shows.Though psychologists who appear in New York’s Family and Matrimonial Courts help shape decisions of grave consequence—from custody to child protection to juvenile delinquency—their work is subject to little or no professional oversight, purportedly because the confidentiality of such proceedings makes them hard to penetrate even for regulators.Several lawyers who have represented parents in such court cases say they and their clients have received similar responses when they’ve tried to pursue complaints against court-appointed psychologists with OPD.“They rely upon a bureaucratic Catch-22 to avoid having to take a hard look at misconduct and take their responsibility of oversight seriously,” said Timothy Tippins, who wrote a 2016 article for the New York Law Journal on inadequate oversight of such evaluators. “You can’t make this bureaucratic bullshit up.”Pace University law professor Merril Sobie, a former chair of the New York State Bar Association’s Committee on Children and the Law, has pressed OPD on what recourse exists for families who challenge the competence or objectivity of the psychologists in their cases. The agency has provided few answers.“It’s a black hole,” Sobie said.When ProPublica asked OPD several months ago to explain why it did not investigate complaints against psychologists working in family and matrimonial courts, officials responded with little more than a description of the office’s mandate and staffing. They declined requests for interviews.This month, when we pressed again, the office—an arm of the New York Department of Education—issued a short statement indicating it was seeking more authority to gather information in such investigations:“The State Education Department investigates every complaint that alleges conduct constituting professional misconduct through its Office of Professional Discipline,” the statement said. “The Department’s ability to investigate court-appointed psychologists can be hampered because the records necessary to pursue such an investigation are, by law, private and open to inspection only upon permission of the Family Court. To help eliminate this potential obstacle to a thorough investigation, the Department is discussing with the New York State Legislature amendments to the law that would give our professional conduct officers greater access to court records. We will continue to pursue such an amendment this legislative session.”Without intervention by OPD, there’s virtually no place to take complaints against court evaluators.Since 2008, New York City’s Appellate Court has had a committee that certifies the just over 200 psychologists and psychiatrists who get court appointments and can adjudicate complaints against them. Through June 2015, it had received 10 complaints and issued two admonitions.But while the committee can bar problem practitioners from testifying in court, it has no authority over psychologists’ licenses. Moreover, court systems elsewhere in the state haven’t set up such committees, partly out of fear that certification requirements might dissuade qualified professionals from taking appointments in regions where practitioners are difficult to find.“They didn’t want to put things in the way of getting people to do this work,” said Jacqueline Silbermann, a former top New York Matrimonial Court judge who was involved in setting up the city’s certification committee and pushed courts outside the city to do the same. “The bottom line is they didn’t.”That leaves OPD, whose investigators are tasked with responding to complaints not only about the state’s nearly 14,000 licensed psychologists, but nearly 50 other kinds of professionals, from dentists to massage therapists.The agency, also known as the Office of the Professions, has come under fire before for its weak enforcement. A 2016 ProPublica investigation found it had not implemented criminal background checks for nurses that are routine in other states and often took years to administer discipline. Critics say it is also impeded by its unusual structure. As part of the Department of Education, OPD comes under the state’s Board of Regents, whose primary responsibility is to oversee the state’s vast public education system, and needs board approval to impose its stiffest sanctions.But in the case of Family and Matrimonial Court psychologists, OPD’s oversight is not so much flawed as it is absent entirely.Since 1994, according to a review by ProPublica, only one evaluator who is today approved for court work in New York City has been disciplined by the state, and it is unclear whether that action had anything to do with work he may have done for the courts. Since Family and Matrimonial Court evaluators elsewhere in the state aren’t certified, it’s impossible to know if any have been disciplined.At a 2012 public hearing, Nancy Erickson, one of the attorneys who represented Frank, called OPD’s approach to overseeing psychologists one of the court system’s most troubling aspects.“This refusal of OPD means that psychologists who are incompetent or even corrupt can continue to make money by doing custody evaluations that could end up misleading the courts and harming children and their families,” she said.The tumultuous saga of the Frank family provides as good a window as any into court evaluators’ pivotal role in custody cases.Anna Frank had filed for divorce in 2007 in Suffolk County Supreme Court, which handles matrimonial matters. She says her husband of 16 years, Michael Frank, was prone to screaming fits and physical aggression. Police records show she called local officers to complain of physical abuse several times as the marriage unraveled. Each parent had had the other arrested over domestic disputes. Their young son allegedly bore witness to their violent fights and later said he, too, suffered abuse at the hands of his father.Michael Frank denies ever abusing either his wife or son, and insists the police reports were based on false allegations.Anna Frank, though, did get a one-year order of protection against her husband and sought to dissolve the marriage. The Franks then came before Suffolk County Supreme Court Judge Andrew Crecca, with Anna seeking custody of her son, child support, and what she deemed her share of the family’s finances and Michael, the primary breadwinner, seeking to protect his assets and gain full custody of his son himself.To sort through the competing accusations, the judge appointed Barbara Burkhard. Burkhard’s company, Child and Family Psychological Services, P.C., had provided therapeutic services to children since 1999 under a contract with Suffolk County’s Department of Social Services. (Burkhard did not respond to repeated emails and phone messages regarding this story.)In the Frank case, Burkhard started out in 2008 functioning as what’s known as the Franks’ “parenting coordinator,” where she would oversee transfers of the child by his warring parents.Then Judge Crecca took the somewhat unusual step of appointing Burkhard to complete a forensic psychological evaluation of the family. Normally these roles are kept separate in order to avoid preconceived notions on the part of the evaluator.In January 2009, Burkhard was part of a chaotic dispute involving the Franks. Anna was supposed to drop her son off at Burkhard’s office so he could be picked up by Michael. But he refused to get out of her car. Burkhard tried to speak with the boy in the car. He was crying, yelling, telling her he did not want to go. He said his father had abused him, sexually and physically. When the boy’s father arrived, he, too, tried to talk to him in the car. In a terror, the boy got out of the car and darted across a busy street. With some coaxing from Burkhard’s staff, the boy came back and embraced his mother, insisting he go home with her. The police arrived and questioned everyone at the scene and the boy went home with his mother.Based on what she saw, Burkhard recommended in a “preliminary report” that the boy be removed from his mother’s care immediately. She determined that what the boy needed most was more time with his father, outside of his mother’s sphere of influence. She recommended that Michael Frank receive temporary, sole custody while the divorce proceedings progressed. The judge followed her recommendation.Anna Frank felt the actions were unfounded and unfair and that the court had essentially awarded sole custody to her husband based on a single episode. Burkhard never interviewed her, or her son, and now, in Anna Frank’s view, the psychologist was putting him in harm’s way.And according to court records, the boy did suffer. His behavior and state of mind deteriorated after that. Usually a strong student, his grades began to decline. Rather than completing assignments, he’d scrawl all over them that he wanted to see his mother. He complained to teachers and social workers that his father had beaten him with a belt and locked him in a basement. His behavior grew increasingly erratic. He tried to run away. He broke windows. He urinated and defecated around the house. Social workers with Child Protective Services became a regular presence at the boy’s home, but their reports echoed Burkhard’s belief that Anna Frank was encouraging the boy to make false allegations of abuse.Burkhard, in report after report, told the court the boy had become “enmeshed” with his mother, potentially succumbing to something akin to what’s known as “Parental Alienation Syndrome.” Burkhard’s reports suggested his mother may have convinced him to make up abuse allegations, in order to heighten her chances of winning custody.Burkhard had the boy evaluated by more mental health professionals, and Judge Crecca decided the boy should be removed from both parents and live at a residential treatment center called Little Flower, in Wading River, about 30 minutes from where the Franks lived. He first came to the home in December 2009.Over the next few years, Frank said she spent every penny she had battling her husband in court to get her son back. She lost her job as a school psychologist after Child Protective Services filed a neglect charge against her—deeming her responsible for her boy’s fear of his father. The school, she said, decided she couldn’t work with children with such a charge pending against her.“They tried to strip me of everything I cared about,” Frank said, in a recent interview. “It was devastating.”She said she supported herself by taking jobs in retail, making a meager $10 an hour after growing accustomed to an $80,000 annual salary.She said Little Flower came to believe her son was telling the truth about his father all along and helped her regain custody.In January 2010, Little Flower delivered a report to the court stating that the boy’s relationship with his father remained deeply strained and that his psychiatrist was concerned about the boy’s tales of abuse.Anna Frank said staff from the home agreed to testify on her behalf, urging the judge to believe the boy. Again, Burkhard weighed in, recommending that if the boy were to leave Little Flower, he should move back in with his father. The home’s staff disagreed. They told the judge if the boy wasn’t going to move in with his mother, he’d be better off in foster care, Anna Frank said.Ultimately, Michael Frank consented to a settlement that granted custody of the boy to his mother.In an interview, Michael Frank said he never “abused his son or her, never, never, never.” He said his wife lied in a number of ways: The police reports were false, and Little Flower never took her side. And he claimed Anna lost her job not because of the neglect charges, but because she “stopped showing up to work.”He said he was the “stable parent.” He said his wife had “brainwashed” their son. He repeatedly cited the fact that she is a trained psychologist, which, as he put it, “gave her plenty of knowledge on how to manipulate young kids. And that’s exactly what she did.”But by the end, he said he had little choice but to “give up.” He said his son was clearly suffering and their relationship felt irrevocably fractured.He said Burkhard had handled the case professionally.“There was no rush to judgment,” he said.Robert Gallo, one of several court-appointed attorneys who wound up representing Anna Frank over the five-year court battle, told ProPublica that the case, taken as a whole, reflects a dire need for outside oversight:“I don’t want to sound like I am bashing Burkhard,” he said. “In that case, I thought she was wrong. But I’ve had others where I thought she was right. Take her out of the mix, and a different psychologist may have just looked at the same facts and got a whole different view. Which is why there should be some oversight and some real clear rules. I don’t think anybody is doing that today.”Anna Frank sure tried.During the custody battle, she was determined to hold Burkhard accountable for the assessment that helped lead to the loss of her child. She complained to OPD in April 2011.The agency’s investigators are charged with ensuring “public protection” from “professional misconduct” across a variety of licensed professions. When it comes to psychologists, their complaint process is no different for practitioners doing evaluations for Family Court than for matters such as fraudulent billing or disclosing private medical information that might come up in private practices.In cases in which OPD’s investigators substantiate complaints, the agency can issue administrative warnings for minor violations or—in more serious cases, which are reviewed by a violations committee—fine or censure licensees.The committee can also refer cases to the state Board of Regents, which can refer the most egregious cases to the state attorney general for criminal prosecution. The board can also revoke a professional’s license.Complaints against psychologists are relatively rare and discipline is even rarer. In 2015, for example, 88 complaints were filed against psychologists statewide and OPD issued one warning, two violation decisions, and four regent actions.But to Erickson, Frank’s lawyer, OPD’s professed unwillingness to even look into complaints about the subset of practitioners acting as court evaluators is particularly problematic.Erickson brought Frank’s case and several others like it to the state bar association’s Children and Family Law committee, then run by Merril Sobie, in April 2011. OPD seemed to have “a policy against investigating complaints that arise out of a court proceeding,” Erickson told the committee.She pointed out that complainants had few good options other than OPD. The American Psychological Association, for example, publishes non-mandatory guidelines for forensic evaluations and looks into complaints about practitioners, but has little enforcement power. A “psychologist can simply drop his or her membership,” Erickson said.Sobie was struck by what he described as OPD’s “hands-off” policy and decided the committee should pursue an explanation for it.ProPublica obtained Sobie’s subsequent correspondence with OPD and its director, George Ding.In his first letter, dated December 2011, Sobie described the problems his committee saw in OPD’s handling of complaints about evaluators.He said complainants were often told to address their concerns to the judge presiding over their custody case, when the judge “would in all likelihood advise the litigant to file a complaint with OPD, the APA, or another office,” Sobie wrote. OPD also advised litigants to write to the court “to release their reports and relevant records” so that it could begin an investigation, a step Sobie said would risk stirring up the “hornet’s nest” by demanding the presence of their ex-spouse after a grueling custody battle.“The Committee believes that this policy may place many children in danger; unfortunately, no matter how many valid complaints are filed against a court-ordered custody evaluator OPD will not investigate,” Sobie wrote. “An incompetent (or unethical) evaluator could continue to harm children.”Sobie closed the letter by offering to help Ding develop a better approach. “We would happily assist you in improving procedures to better protect New York’s children,” he said.Then he waited. And waited.The New Year came and went. He sent the same letter again in late January 2012.“We would appreciate the courtesy of a reply,” he wrote.Still, nothing.“I was not happy,” he said, recalling his dismay in an interview. “I didn’t think they were fulfilling their responsibility. I didn’t think that was the appropriate way to respond to the state bar association. And they wouldn’t put a goddamn thing in writing.”The following month, in February 2012, Erickson brought another complaint filed with OPD to Sobie’s committee’s attention.In this instance, the psychologist—a highly active forensic evaluator based in Brooklyn named N.G. Berrill—was not even appointed by the court. He was retained directly by a man who sought to halt his ex-wife’s unsupervised visits with their children.According to the complaint, Berrill never contacted the mother and never attempted to question the statements the ex-husband made about himself. And yet he concluded the mother’s relationship with the kids had a potentially damaging effect. Berrill wrote a letter to the court recommending that her visitations with her children be supervised by state social workers from then on. The woman wound up losing custody.Asked about the Family Court case by ProPublica, Berrill declined to respond to the allegations in the complaint and said in an email he did not want his work “discussed” in this article.When an investigator with OPD wrote back to the complainant, the responses struck her as bizarre.The letter said that since the woman herself was “not the parent who requested the report from Dr. Berrill” and since the office could not “interview the children or obtain copies of the necessary records without the consent of the father, this office could not adequately conduct an investigation.”It also noted that Berrill disclosed the fact that he never spoke to the woman and “the court recognized that fact.”“It is based on this that the decision was made to close your file.”Sobie, more alarmed than ever, wrote to Ding again in May 2012.“It has come to our attention OPD’s policies are perhaps more seriously flawed than we thought,” he said, laying out the details of the complaint.“The response from OPD is frankly incomprehensible,” he said. “When we wrote our December 1, 2011 letter, we thought OPD took a ‘hands off’ policy only when the licensee was appointed by a court; the current example indicates that even a licensee who is not court appointed will not be investigated.”Ding never wrote back.After weeks of prodding, Sobie said he finally got a phone call from him.“Essentially he said they can’t get involved if it’s a court ordered forensic because of confidentiality,” Sobie said. “I said ‘You are a state agency charged with enforcing professional discipline, I don’t see how you couldn’t do this. Don’t you have subpoena power? I find it very difficult to believe that a judge upon motion of a state agency who is charged with that responsibility would deny the motion. Did you ever do that?’ And of course, they never did that.”Ding did not respond to questions about Sobie’s version of their back-and-forth.In 2012, Sobie’s tenure as chair of the Children and Law Committee came to a close. The committee subsequently lost some of its interest in evaluators.Erickson said she continued to hear from mothers who felt OPD had unjustly dismissed their complaints.In one such case, a woman was told by an OPD investigator that it found no “evidence sufficient to support taking action against the subject” but then explained that “a request for the official documents and the evaluation was denied by Family Court.”Once again, OPD had apparently closed an investigation without getting the records it would need to even start it.That case was featured in Tippins’ law journal article, titled “Custody Evaluators: Where’s the Oversight?”Tippins, a veteran attorney who has become the go-to expert in how to effectively challenge their work, has written extensively on the topic of oversight. In the article, he declared the OPD’s professed unwillingness or inability to investigate Family Court evaluators to be “as dangerous as it is derelict.”“Evaluations are often flawed by bias, methodological deficiency, or both,” he wrote. “While many evaluators strive to present reliable expertise, incompetent or unethical evaluators are hardly strangers to the courts.”He went on to explain that thorough cross examination of evaluators is rare and that cases are often settled on the basis of their work, making outside oversight an absolute imperative.In his view, OPD provides nothing of the kind.“If the subject were not so serious, this rigmarole would be worthy of Abbott & Costello,” he wrote.In his response to Tippins, Ding asserted that his office “investigates every complaint which alleges conduct constituting professional misconduct.”Ding said he could not supply evidence of the office taking action against a court-appointed evaluator because its data “is not maintained in a manner that is based on the information that you are seeking.”Tippins’ article helped reinvigorate the bar association committee’s interest.Ding accepted an invitation to their annual meeting last December.Finally, Sobie and Erickson thought they might get some answers.But Ding didn’t show up.He apologized, saying he got the date wrong, and called in by phone, answering questions for an hour.According to people who attended the meeting, he stuck to his claim that his office can’t investigate Family or Matrimonial Court cases because it can’t access essential records. Asked if he ever went to court to ask for records, he said he’d done so only once. Someone at the committee meeting noted that Ding could go to the state Attorney General’s office to seek a subpoena. According to those present, Ding said he assumed the attorney general had other priorities.OPD disputes this version of events, but would not supply details as to what happened.Ding did call the current head of the Children and Law Committee to complain that someone on the committee had described the meeting to ProPublica. He said it put him in “a very bad position” with the Attorney General’s office.Sobie said the meeting left him certain of one thing:“There is no professional oversight.”ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for their newsletter.last_img read more

EMV liability in flux

first_imgCertainly legislators did their best to clearly outline the liability shift they envisioned as EMV cards came online in the United States last October. But some kinks in the system are still being worked out, according to reports from the field.“We converted our debit card program to all EMV cards last summer,” says CUES member Scott Duszynski, president/CEO of Keys Federal Credit Union, Key West, Fla. “Recently we discovered that some vendors that have their terminals activated allow the EMV cards to be swiped with no notice to the member. By allowing this, the merchant just shifted the liability back to us. Most merchants have the terminals set to tell the cardholder to insert the card in the chip reader. Some, including Walgreens, do not.“We brought this up with our card processor and they suggested we ‘decline’ transactions when the member swipes our EMV card, but that is sure to upset our members.”“It is a problem,” says Michelle Thornton, director of product development at CUES Supplier member CO-OP Financial Services, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. There are situations where liability should shift to the merchant, but doesn’t, because of accidental or deliberate POS processes. continue reading » 7SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

Make cybersecurity part of your credit union’s fabric

first_imgIn today’s ever-present cyber threat environment, financial institutions are frequent targets.Credit unions continue to fall victim to a variety of cyberattacks, including malware infections, phishing scams, denial-of-service attacks, cryptojacking, and ransomware.These attacks not only cause monetary losses, they can also contribute to a loss of trust between the credit union and its members.Cybersecurity is one of the most dynamic risks for organizations to manage. And unfortunately, only 42% believe their company is effective at managing cybersecurity, according to Deloitte. continue reading » 1SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

Delaying divorce to save marriages

first_imgWashington Post 21 Oct 2011Conventional wisdom holds that about half of U.S. marriages end in divorce — and that most Americans wish the divorce rate were lower. Still, many are skeptical about whether we can lower the divorce rate without trapping more people in bad marriages. This skepticism is fueled by two common assumptions: Divorce happens only after a long process of misery and conflict; and, once couples file for divorce, they don’t entertain the idea of reconciling. We now know those assumptions are wrong.Research over the past decade has shown that a major share of divorces (50 to 66 percent, depending on the study) occur between couples who had average happiness and low levels of conflict in the years before the divorce. Contrary to popular belief, only a minority of divorcing couples experience high conflict and abuse during their marriages. Most divorces occur with couples who have drifted apart and handle everyday disagreements poorly. It is these “average” divorces that research shows are the most harmful to children….William J. Doherty and his team of researchers asked 2,500 divorcing parents in Minnesota who were well along in that process whether they were interested in services to help them reconcile. In at least 10 percent of these divorce cases, both spouses were open to efforts to reconcile — and in another 30 percent, one spouse was interested in reconciliation. Results for couples earlier in the divorce process were even more promising. In other words, a substantial number of today’s divorces may be preventable.http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/delaying-divorce-to-save-marriages/2011/10/19/gIQAKh0f1L_story.htmlREAD Full ReportREAD Media Releaselast_img read more

Four years later, USC remains under Title IX investigation

first_imgThey never listened.In February 2013, Alexa Schwartz told USC’s Center for Women and Men, now the Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention and Services, that she had been sexually assaulted.Schwartz, then a junior majoring in theatre, waited three months and heard nothing back. No updates, no acknowledgement, no plan for action. When she returned to the center, she said that she found that the counselor she first spoke to hadn’t reported her case. Schwartz felt that her trauma had been forgotten.Her alleged assailant, she said, had remained enrolled at USC, on track to graduate two weeks later. The only option for recourse remaining would take place after his graduation. In Schwartz’ eyes, the case had simply slipped through the University’s fingers.Schwartz is one of many students who feel that the University didn’t listen to their stories of sexual assault. Now, she hopes to prevent this from happening to anyone else at USC.After her experience, she banded together with other students who went through similar experiences to seek justice under Title IX, a law that prohibits gender discrimination in education. A total of 16 students and alumni who alleged their cases had been mishandled by the Title IX office at USC filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, which agreed to investigate the University in July 2013.“We started as a small group and then pulled more people in over social media,” Schwartz said. “Just asking people to spread the word that we’re looking for anyone who experienced any kind of issues with their investigations, or any negative experiences with the University, and it really blew up.”Almost four years later, USC remains under federal investigation for alleged violations of students’ Title IX rights, facing accusations that it mishandled and underreported cases of rape and sexual assault.In those four years, the University implemented programs and procedures for preventing and reporting assault, some of which were direct responses to the investigation. But students and administrators still cite difficulties within the University, despite increased awareness about campus sexual assault.Under investigation  When the federal investigation of USC first began, Schwartz was joined by two other students — Ari Mostov and Tucker Reed. Both claim that they turned to their university following a sexual assault only to have their stories go ignored.The Title IX Office declined to comment on the investigations of Mostov, Reed and Schwartz.Mostov said an officer dismissed her rape when she first reported it to the Department of Public Safety. She said he argued that a rape couldn’t happen if the assailant didn’t orgasm, despite the fact that penetration occurred.“Because he stopped, it was not rape,” Mostov was told, according to the Title IX complaint. “Even though his penis penetrated your vagina, because he stopped, it was not a crime.”This does not align with the definition of assault provided by the Department of Justice, which states that sexual assault is any coercive, nonconsensual sexual contact. But because of an officer’s personal interpretation, Mostov’s case was left ignored.Reed’s experience followed the same pattern. She said that in 2013, she offered the administration an audio recording of her ex-boyfriend admitting to assault. Instead of offering a punishment, the university official informed her that their goal was to offer an “educative” process to students who commit assaults.“The problems are rampant within every department, pretty much every service on campus,” Reed told the Huffington Post. “There is an overwhelming disregard for women and students going through obvious trauma, and they traumatized them further.”The investigation spurred the University to improve systems to both prevent sexual assault and encourage victims to report incidents. This process included adding a coordinator to improve the training of campus security authorities, USC Title IX Coordinator and Executive Director Gretchen Means wrote in an email to the Daily Trojan in August 2016.Training and prevention programs are continually being refined and reworked. The administration coordinates with University organizations such as the Engemann Student Health Center and the Office for Wellness and Health promotion, along with student organizations and cultural centers.Yet despite these efforts, the federal Title IX investigation of USC continues, leaving the three women who first launched it to wonder if their stories will ever be heard.For Schwartz, the key to stopping sexual assault begins with reporting. Victims must feel safe enough to report their assaults to the University, she said, while the administration must be ready to listen and to help.Currently, only 20 percent of victims report assaults to the police, according to the U.S. Justice Department. This statistic makes prevention tricky, because a higher number of reports could reflect that students are comfortable speaking out about the issue.This means lower rates could indicate a more repressive environment rather than a safer one, according to Schwartz, who emphasized the importance of a climate in which survivors feel safe coming forward.“You’re never actually going to go down to zero any time soon, so you want to hear about the sexual assaults that are happening,” Schwartz said. “If you think that there are zero going on, then there might be a communication problem.”Data provided by Vice President for Student Affairs Ainsley Carry – Michelle Je | Daily TrojanThen and nowThe solution, however, doesn’t end with reporting. In the wake of the Title IX investigation, the University increased its focus on preventative programs. These include mandatory online courses such as “AlcoholEdu” and “On the Safe Side,” which new students must take before registering for classes.But Means believes that these programs cannot completely prevent assault on campus.“Effective prevention is multi-disciplinary, delivered in a variety of mediums and reinforced by cultural forces inside and outside of the University,” Means said. “Students come to school with diverse experiences and backgrounds, [which] means that we need to design prevention programs that meet students where they are. USC is working hard to create prevention programming that can meet this reality.”Schwartz also believes that the climate surrounding sexual assault has changed since 2013. She sees programs such as Violence Outreach Intervention and the Community Empowerment peer-to-peer education program as a sign that students are invested in prevention.“A lot of students really care about this issue, and want to make a positive change and get trained and help out,” Schwartz said. “That feels very different culturally than from when I was a student — [dialogue about sexual assault] was very taboo, and there was no such program.”After her assault, Schwartz learned firsthand the burden of reporting and sharing experiences with both the government and fellow survivors. But she feels the conversation is worth the effort.“Before we started with the activism, I felt pretty alone and I didn’t really hear people talking about this very much, and I didn’t really know how to talk about this myself,” Schwartz said. “I’m proud of what we’ve done and what I’ve done.”Yet, Carry believes that the momentum of the movement has begun to stall.“I want to get back to the days when students were banging down my door saying, ‘Let’s do something to end sexual misconduct on our campus’ — I miss it,” Carry said. “I really want students to get fired up about this again. I don’t want this to become, ‘Oh, that was important in 2013’ — until we get to zero, this is still important.”Shyann Murphy, the former director of the Women’s Student Assembly — now the Student Assembly for Gender Empowerment — agreed that, at the height of Schwartz’s case, activism was strong. But she believes the conversation has turned in a new direction rather than stalling.“I think that when I first came to USC a lot of the conversation was, ‘If someone’s drunk, they’re not consenting,’” Murphy said. “Now I see the conversation going toward, ‘how can we support survivors, how can we change these things, get bystanders to intervene.’ I think that conversation is evolving. I’d like to see it evolve even more so that people can … look at rape culture and look at how it’s so intersectional with so many other marginalities.”Chasing zeroThe ultimate goal, Carry says, is for sexual assault to never happen again.It’s a goal that Carry calls “chasing zero” — zero sexual assaults reported on campus for an entire school year. According to Carry, the preventative measures and programs already developed by the administration reflect this mission.“How do we stop these things from happening?” Carry said. “It’s bold, it’s ambitious, it’s crazy, some people might say, but we owe it to our students to chase zero in this issue. [Sexual assault] changes people’s lives in a very dramatic way, and I think we can be a better university than having more than one incident of sexual misconduct every year.”Despite this goal, the numbers of forcible sexual offenses — listed by DPS as rape, fondling, incest and statutory rape — reported by DPS have remained constant over the past four years. In its 2016 Annual Security and Fire Safety Report, DPS reported that sexual offenses fell from 33 in 2013 to 31 in 2014 before rising to 41 in 2015.Carry and Means embrace the fact that the Title IX process still has room for improvement. The waiting period for victims typically lasts 60 to 90 days, according to Means, though the U.S. Department of Education recommends a 60-day turnaround. Understaffing may be one reason for the delay — the RSVP staff consists of three counselors, which Murphy says is not enough to help students in the way they deserve.“So many people need [RSVP’s help] and need those services,” Murphy said. “The counselors are really busy, and they’re also doing programming and educational workshops — [they] need more people, resources and money to program.”For Carry, a crucial solution to achieving the University’s goal of zero sexual assaults digs down to a more basic level — demanding that students live up to Trojan values.“If students saw everybody as their sister, their mom or their brother, and they intervened — what would you do if somebody was doing that to your sister? — you would intervene,” Carry said. “That shared responsibility for each other — that’s going to be a huge help in getting us to zero.”Every six months, Schwartz contacts the Office of Civil Rights for updates on the investigation, and asks when the investigation will be closed. The answers are always the same, always brief — the case is ongoing. In four years, she says, her case hasn’t changed.As years have passed, Schwartz has become increasingly doubtful about the direction and timeline of the investigation.“Now that there’s so many schools under investigation, it feels less likely they’re going to reach a new conclusion since they have such a small staff,” Schwartz said. “I’m wondering how much longer it’s going to take for this investigation to finish, because I’m not really sure what they’re still looking for.”She doesn’t know if her case will ever be resolved. But Schwartz hopes for a future where students like her will feel brave enough to come forward and where, this time, the University will listen.last_img read more

Not all 14 unbeaten hoops teams are in Top 25

first_imgOthers receiving votes: Iowa 53, Pittsburgh 48, Saint Mary’s 24, Creighton 9, Michigan 7, George Washington 5, New Mexico 3, Virginia 3, Oklahoma 1. 22. UCLA9-19123 1. Arizona (30)11-07981 6. Wisconsin12-06456 Pittsburgh’s Lamar Patterson (21) in action against Youngstown State in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)Breaking down this week’s Associated Press college basketball poll:___UNRANKED UNBEATENS: At the start of the week, there were 14 Division I teams that had yet to lose a game, and all but three of them are ranked in the Top 25.Pittsburgh (10-0), Toledo (9-0) and Saint Mary’s, Calif. (8-0) are unranked.Six of the unbeatens — Arizona, Syracuse, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Villanova and Connecticut — are ranked in the top 10.The others are No. 11 Wichita State, No. 13 Oregon, No. 17 Iowa State, No. 22 Massachusetts and No. 23 Missouri.On the other side of the win-loss ledger, three Division I teams have yet to a win a game: Cornell (0-10), Tennessee State (0-10) and Grambling State (0-4).___BIG MOVES: Saturday’s Kentucky-North Carolina game accounted for the week’s biggest poll moves.The Tar Heels’ 82-77 victory moved them from No. 18 to 14th.Kentucky, the preseason No. 1, dropped from No. 11 to 19th with its third loss of the season — all to teams ranked in the top 14 in this week’s poll.Kansas, which lost to Florida last week before beating New Mexico, dropped five spots to 18th, the Jayhawks’ lowest ranking since they were 21st in February 2009.___BEATING RANKEDS: North Carolina’s 82-77 victory over Kentucky on Saturday was the Tar Heels’ third win this season over a ranked team. North Carolina also beat then-No. 3 Louisville and then-No. 1 Michigan State.The Tar Heels are the only team this season with wins over three ranked opponents.Iowa State (No. 7 Michigan and No. 23 Iowa); San Diego State (No. 20 Creighton and No. 25 Marquette); and Villanova (No. 2 Kansas and No. 23 Iowa) are the only teams with two wins over ranked opponents.___DOUBLE-RANKED GAMES: There are two games between ranked teams this week.On Tuesday, No. 15 Memphis and No. 16 Florida meet in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden. On Saturday, No. 7 Oklahoma State and No. 20 Colorado meet at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.There will be as close to a double-ranked game as possible Thursday at Madison Square Garden when No. 8 Duke faces UCLA, which was 26th in this week’s voting.USA Today Top 25 PollThe top 25 teams in the USA Today men’s college basketball poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Dec. 15, points based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote and previous ranking: 9. Wichita State10-05458 4. Louisville9-16764 2. Ohio State (1)10-07482 5. Michigan State8-16535 RecordPtsPvs 18. North Carolina7-228821 11. Oregon9-049011 12. Villanova10-041314 2. Syracuse (1)10-07483 21. Kentucky8-321710center_img 14. Memphis7-134915 13. Iowa State8-035116 20. UMass9-022920 23. San Diego State7-19024 10. UConn9-049412 17. Florida7-229619 19. Kansas7-323213 7. Oklahoma State9-15559 15. Gonzaga10-131116 25. Missouri10-076– 15. Baylor8-131118 8. Duke7-25537 24. Colorado10-188–last_img read more

Gautam Gambhir reveals he was asked to plead guilty to Shane Watson elbowing incident…

first_imgAdvertisement b12yhNBA Finals | Brooklyn Vs56vjjvWingsuit rodeo📽Sindre E3xi( IG: @_aubreyfisher @imraino ) dpsWould you ever consider trying this?😱Can your students do this? 🌚4emRoller skating! Powered by Firework Cricket and sledging go hand in hand and this becomes more interesting when the two best teams – India and Australia take on each other. Since Australia are famous for sledging and Indian players faced it many a time, former India payer Gautam Gambhir has recently revealed such kind of incident.Advertisement The incident took place during a Test match between Indian and Australia in Bangalore when former Australia captain Ricky Ponting tried to sledge him while fielding at silly point. He mocked Gambhir on his batting, citing that it had no spark.Advertisement “Ricky Ponting in 2008. When Anil Kumble was the captain, in that series where I got a double hundred. In the 1st test match at Bangalore, he said that I had not sent the world on fire while I was batting and he was fielding at silly point,” Gautam Gambhir told on Stars Sports show ‘Cricket Connected’.However, Gautam Gambhir is known for his straight forward comments – be it on Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni’s cricketing career or the current situation in the country. He revealed how he shut Ricky Ponting down with his reply by reminding him of his poor show in India. Ponting failed to impress against India. In 14 Tests matches, he had an average of 26.48 and managed only 1 out his 41 Test century in India as well.Advertisement “And I said ‘Neither have you to be honest in India. You have been a bunny’. And his record says that as well that he has been a bunny in India.” Gambhir added.Gautam Gambhir, on the other hand, had topped scored with 463 runs from 3 matches and also smashed a double hundred. He also spoke about his banter with former all-rounder Shane Watson during the same series. In the 3rd Test match in Delhi Gambhir elbowed Watson while taking a run after a verbal altercation.After that incident, Gambhir pleaded guilty to a charge of not conducting play “within the spirit of the game as well as within the laws of cricket” and he was banned for a Test match also. However, Gambhir has revealed that it wasn’t intentional and he agreed to admit it on the suggestion of the then-coach Gary Kirsten.“Shane Watson! And the reason is I didn’t do that intentionally. Actually, I got banned after that game. A lot of people say that I elbowed him, but I didn’t do that purposely. When I was going for the hearing to the match, Gary Kirsten told me to accept it as it is Chris Broad. He will give you the extra sympathy and he is not going to ban you. I went inside with Gary Kirsten and he asked if you accept your mistake. I said ‘Yes’ and he said you are banned,” Gautam Gambhir concluded.If you like reading about MMA, make sure you check out MMAIndia.com Also, follow India’s biggest arm wrestling tournament at ProPanja.comALSO READ:BCCI clarifies its stance on Asia Cup and IPL 2020Steve Smith reveals why IPL is the ‘best tournament’ he’s been a part of! Advertisementlast_img read more

Bombers Rugby salutes year end winners

first_imgThe end of the school term means time to hand out athletic awards at L.V. Rogers High School.Two Bombers garnering top honours were Grade 12 players Simon Yole and Simon Yole and Mariah Maglio. Yole, powerful, high work rate, durable and commited, captured the Most Valuable Player award for the Bombers Rugby side.Yole also was the Commissioner’s Winner at B.C. High School Rugby Championships in Abottsford.Meanwhile, on the girl’s circuit, Maglio topped the awards by winning the Most Valuable Player for the Bombers.Maglio was the leading scorer with amazing speed and gifted offensive abilities.Other award winners for the Bombers Rugby include Rookie of the Year: Emma Schrader and Jef Vreys while Tiffany Markin and Brandon Sagal were Coaches Award winners.last_img read more

“4 The Troops” helps for the holidays

first_img 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week Galvan began by sending care packages to people she or her friends knew, and the operation then grew to serve thousands of troops per year. “This project has been medicine to my soul,” said Galvan. She said the troops greatly appreciate the service, usually sending e-mails and letters to donors who respond to their requests. The correspondence provides “a connection to home,” Galvan said, and also “helps them remember that people really care.” Galvan said 4 The Troops has been especially rewarding for her recently as she undergoes chemotherapy. She hopes to continue her work with 4 The Troops and praised the support she’s received from soldiers she’s spoken to. Donors are encouraged to stop by American Legion Post 280 at 179 N. Vinedo Ave. in Pasadena to make tax-deductible contributions. The current donation drive ends Dec. 1. Information can be found at www.4thetroops.org or by calling (866) 410-HERO. PASADENA – After several natural disasters have captured the nation’s philanthropic attention, one local charity organization wants to remind people about the needs of American soldiers during the holidays. Pasadena’s “4 The Troops,” a nonprofit organization, collects donations for care packages that it sends to soldiers deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan and other parts of the world. Donations have been low this year. Troops in need of supplies, usually entertainment items such as DVDs and video games, sign up with the organization and make requests, and 4 The Troops then tries to fulfill those requests from donations. It typically sends out between 2,000 and 5,000 care packages per year. The 4 The Troops group was founded in March 2003 by Anne Galvan, and it now has offices in Pasadena and Los Angeles. Galvan, who lives in Diamond Bar, said her brother served in the Air Force during Operation Desert Storm and she was inspired to create the organization after watching footage of the current Iraq war on TV. last_img read more

South Korea to Inject More Funds in Struggling Shipyards

first_imgzoomSource: Pixabay under CC0 Creative Commons license South Korea plans to spend another KRW 70 billion (USD 60.1 million) to support local shipbuilders’ recovery efforts, the country’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said.The financial support would be aimed at helping local shipyards in attracting orders for environmentally friendly vessels, such as LNG-fuelled ships, as they struggle to recover from an industry wide slump.The latest development is a follow-up to a major funding, revealed in November 2018, for the South Korean shipbuilding industry.At the time, South Korea said that it would create KRW 1.7 trillion (USD 1.46 billion) fund to support shipbuilders.Additionally, the country would invest KRW 2.8 trillion (USD 2.4 billion) in infrastructure, a move which could see a total of 140 LNG-fuelled vessels ordered at the yards by 2025.World Maritime News Stafflast_img read more